To say that Fifty Shades of Grey has been a phenomenon is an understatement. Since debuting in 2011, the series has sold more than 70 million copies—the fastest-selling trilogy in history. During that time, its success has led to a spike in the sale of sex gear, the rate of extramarital bondage, a projected baby boom and much hand-wringing over kinky intercourse entering the mainstream.
Have you heard of Angel Cordero? Neither have most Americans. A few weeks ago, autotuned video footage of Charles Ramsey went viral after Ramsey rescued three girls from captivity in Cleveland. Ramsey’s down-to-earth, offbeat version of the events made him an instant celebrity in a culture where our 15 minutes of fame are instantly accessible. They are just a Reddit upvote away.
However, Charles Ramsey didn’t act alone.
Last week I got to meet a man in the last six hours of his life, although I obviously didn’t know that at the time. I don’t remember his name or where he was from, but I believe he was born in India. I shook his hand and looked at his face. He was visiting my roommate, dressed in a comically oversized suit and a cheap bowtie. He looked like he was dressed to perform at a child’s birthday party, the kind of man who might be secretly versed in magic. With golden apple cheeks covered in whiskers, he had the kind of warmth that sticks with you, like someone out of a Bob Hope movie.
He and my roommate searched for a particular brand of cigarettes on the streets of Devon all day, and as they waited for the elevator, they were going upstairs to her boyfriend’s place in retreat. They found out the cigarettes are illegal here, even though her boyfriend swore you could buy them on the street. I said goodbye to him as the elevator doors opened. I never saw him again. His bags are still in my apartment; his military duffle rests against my couch and his books linger on my table.
Shortly after meeting me, he fell out from the fourteenth story of our Edgewater apartment complex.
This week, the Munchies Awards named Chicago the country’s best food city, citing local hot spots like Black Dog Gelato in Wicker Park, Intelligentsia Coffee in Lakeview and Streeterville’s Bar Toma as some of Chicago’s best food attractions. However, no restaurant better emblematizes Chicago foodie culture like the visionary Big Star, the hub of Wicker Park’s cuisine scene. Big Star is a love letter to Chicago, a testament to our city’s endless capacity for invention. When it comes to food, we are second to none.
There are an endless number of reasons you should be a Big Star regular—or a self-described "fan girl" like myself. Here’s five.
1. Big Star makes great food accessible.
Big Star is located in the heart of Wicker Park, a latte’s throw from the neighborhood’s popular Wormhole Cafe and the shops that line Milwaukee Avenue.
I’ve always known I would have a daughter someday. With my brothers, father, uncles and their friends, I was surrounded by men who shaped my understanding of the world. A classic workaholic, my father taught me the importance of playing by society’s rules, doing what was necessary to get ahead. As a former nerd, all he wanted to do was fit in and be one of the guys.
My father and his friends had a term for girls: “Psycho bitches from hell.”
At the age of three, he taught me how to catcall. He trained me to whistle at women in the grocery store and yell things like, “Hubba Hubba!” The woman would usually tell me how cute I was.
“You’ll be a real heartbreaker someday,” she would say.
My dad would wink and nudge me, rewarding me for sexual harassment and complicit masculinity. This is the world I grew up in.
But it wasn’t supposed to be. I was supposed to be a girl. My mother was going to call me Natasha, Tasha for short. I wonder what life would have been like as Tasha, even though I’ve always hated that name.
June brings another month of Pride to Chicago, the LGBTQA community’s annual celebration of, resilience and progress. Pride is a call for remembrance and for visibility, and events like Dyke March and TGIF 2013 use our collective voice to say we are here, we have survived and we will thrive. Our bodies speak louder than words.
Although the month is an ode to our diversity, we too often think of Pride as a Boystown event, a celebration of men on half-naked white men on floats dancing to Katy Perry.
United Latino Pride is working to shift that and remind us what Pride can be. For organizer ULP Danny Olvera Orozco, pride is “an absence of shame, a refusal to apologize for who you are.” Being gay and Latino, Olvera Orozco stated that his community experiences Pride at “the intersections of possibility.” Olvera Orozco said, “We’re both and more. Pride is showing our beautiful queer and brown selves.”