Culture

Here’s Why Chicago Should Be On Everyone’s List Of Must-Visit Cities

If you don’t have Chicago on your bucket list, you’re sleeping on the vibrant metropolis.

The city has an enviable lakefront that runs 18.5 miles along the city skyline, a museum campus (and a number of other art and educational institutions nearby) that you could visit for years and still find something new, and dining options that run the gamut from Michelin-starred to hole-in-the-wall mom and pop shops. 

If that’s not enough to get your there, this might be:

For $2.25, you can take the CTA train into the city.

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Whether you’re flying into O’Hare or Midway, each airport offers a direct route into downtown Chicago. From there, you can easily transfer to any of the other train lines, buses or Metra (servicing the suburbs) to get where you’re going and oftentimes, get downtown just as fast as driving. Save yourself the headache of traffic and trying to find your rideshare—as well as cash—by taking the train into the city. Once you’re there, hop into a cab or transfer like a local.

Speakeasies and Cocktail Bars Aren’t Just a Fad

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They’re a historical part of the city. In 1921, the bar now known as The Green Door Tavern opened as a restaurant. Over the years, the restaurant was sold and renamed the Green Door Tavern. During prohibition, a green door would let people know that they could find a speakeasy inside. According to the Green Door Tavern’s website, many of the original fixtures found at the bar are from the 1920s. It’s easy to get caught up in the history of the first floor, but if you keep walking towards the back, and take the steps into the basement—you’ll find a woman with an iPad next to a bookshelf. Leave your name, head back upstairs and wait for The Drifter to call you. Once IDs are checked (again) you’ll find yourself in a tiny room that feels like you’ve stepped into an old-timey circus. Tarot cards are used as drink menus, you can play drink roulette by selecting a $10 fortune cookie that contains your drink order and every hour a different performer takes the stage. It’s easy to imagine one of Al Capone’s cronies posted at the bar grabbing a drink between jobs.

But The Drifter isn’t the only speakeasy worth visiting. In Wicker Park, The Violet Hour, considered the birthplace of artisan cocktails in Chicago, is worth the wait. Just be sure to follow the house rules.

Comedians Are Made in The Second City

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Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mike Meyers, Steve Carrell, Chris Farley, John Candy and most of the funniest names in entertainment came out of world-renowned The Second City, a comedy club, theater and school of improvisation.

To date, it has not produced a Latinx show on its mainstage (a disappointing trend in entertainment). However, actress/producer Vanessa Garcia is working to change that with “La Carne Asada 2: The Seasoning,” performed inside the venue’s Judy’s Beat Lounge. The sketch show for Latinos by Latinos is performed mostly in Spanish with deeply Latino characters and tropes. It sold-out its summer show dates and recently added new fall dates.

Garcia was inspired to write a sequel to last year’s sold-out run of La Carne Asada after a conversation that implied that Latinx content was not headlining stage material. With that in mind, the show is a statement about quality Latinx-centric and minority-centric content being as entertaining, engaging and mainstream as any headline show.

It’s a Magical Place—No Really, Magicians Are As Common As Bartenders

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In a profile piece on magicians for Chicago, Kevin writes about how the art of magic is taught mostly from books, and Midwest Magic in the suburbs is one of the largest magic shops in the world. It’s no wonder there’s been an uptick in magic-themed venues and entertainment. For an intimate, upscale experience head to the Magic Parlour at the Palmer House Hilton. In one of the gilded rooms, you’ll see close-hand magic performed by Dennis Watkins.

To see several acts in one place, head north to the Magic Lounge. The entrance is marked by a sign that reads ‘laundromat.’ Walk inside and start enjoying your night with a drink at the bar where a raised platform features a magician while you wait for your show to begin. Once ushered into the seated venue, various magicians will rove the aisles to keep guests entertained before the start of the first act.

Latino fans will get a kick out of Luis Carreon. The award-winning magician peppers his act with jokes that riff on Mexican culture.

It’s A Sports Fan’s Dream

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Between the Cubs and Sox (MLB) rivalry, Bears (NFL), Bulls (an NBA franchise synonymous with Michael Jordan and six league titles), the Sky (WNBA) and three recent titles between the Blackhawks (NHL), sports are an integral part of the city’s DNA—and that’s just the professional teams found within the city limits. Head to the suburbs if you want to see the Red Stars (MLS) play. It’s worth the drive considering four members of the Women’s World Cup Championship team play for the local league. The Chicago Fire, the men’s team, also plays at the same venue.

Even if you prefer a different type of entertainment, you’re not really experiencing the city if you don’t have some kind of sports encounter. Worst case scenario, you can eat really well since all the stadiums have local dining options in-stadium—like Big Star at the United Center where the Bulls and Hawks play— which is also across the street from the Cubs’ Wrigley Field.

READ: A New Incubator Is Opening Up In Chicago’s ‘La Villita’ And Will Embrace The Neighborhood’s Mexican Heritage

Recreational Marijuana Will Soon Be Legal In Illinois But Immigrants Are Being Warned To Keep Away From It

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Recreational Marijuana Will Soon Be Legal In Illinois But Immigrants Are Being Warned To Keep Away From It

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This summer, Illinois became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis use through a state legislator when the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act was passed by Governor J.B. Pritzker in May. However, not everyone will be able to benefit from the new law. Advocates are warning immigrants to stay away from consuming or working in the marijuana industry because of small legality that could reflect poorly on their cases.

While states have been legalizing marijuana, it is still illegal federally. An immigrant, undocumented or otherwise, can freely use the herb in Illinois, but should they own up to it, they would be admitting to breaking federal law. Illinois is the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana use and the new law will go into effect in January. 

Advocates want to protect immigrants from hurting their cases — as fair as the situation is.

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“Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know about these consequences,” Mony Ruiz-Velasco, executive director of PASO West Suburban Action Project told the Chicago Tribune. “Just admitting use makes you a potential target for deportation. So you don’t have to have a criminal arrest or conviction, you just have to admit to use.” 

Ruis-Velasco is also warning immigrants who live in mixed-status households to stay away from the industry altogether. Even if a citizen in the household works in the industry, it could reflect poorly on an undocumented family member. 

The issue is not specific to Illinois immigrants either, states, where cannabis is legal, have been affected tremendously by the incompatibilities between the state and federal laws, along with the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies. 

Immigrants around the country in states where marijuana is legal are seeing threats to their status.

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“Even though the state legalizes it, under federal law, the immigration consequences of drug use (are) … extremely harsh,” Colorado attorney Aaron Hall said. “So we’ve seen people who purchase marijuana at the dispensary in good faith and later come back and it leads to the denial of permanent residency.”

Denver, Colorado mayor Michael Hancock even penned a letter pleading to U.S. Attorney General William Bar to ease the restrictions where state’s have legalized the substance.

“Denver understands the need for federal laws and regulations regarding citizenship and immigration, but we are seeing the heartbreaking effects that those federal laws and regulations are having on our residents,” Hancock wrote. “However, under current federal policy, lawful, permanent residents like Denver residents I have met with are being denied naturalization and may lose their legal status based on their lawful employment in the cannabis industry.”

ICE has remained strident about not making any concessions for immigrants caught in the unusual predicament. 

“ICE continues to pursue foreign-born nationals convicted of drug-related offenses by local and state law enforcement,” the agency told the Chicago Tribune

Kathleen Vannucci, an attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said she has already seen cases where immigrants were denied citizenship because they admitted to marijuana use or employment in the cannabis industry in states where it is legal. In Washington, immigrants have been denied on the basis that they have bad “moral character” which requires them to wait five years before applying for citizenship again. 

Some low-level cannabis workers can be accused of drug trafficking with the way the laws are written. ICE’s official marijuana policy, issued in April, makes its stance clear.

“The policy guidance also clarifies that an applicant (for citizenship) who is involved in certain marijuana-related activities may lack good moral character if found to have violated federal law, even if such activity has been decriminalized under applicable state laws,” the policy states. 

Advocates are trying to figure out the best course of action to protect immigrants, until then their advice is to stay away from the drug.

In April, when ICE’s marijuana policy was announced Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) began advising non-citizens to, “never leave the house carrying marijuana or paraphernalia, a medical marijuana card, or wearing clothing with marijuana imagery on it.” 

The organization also warned non-citizens to keep anything cannabis-related off of their phones and social media since those things might be monitored too. 

The legalization of marijuana is largely a way to resolve the criminal justice issues caused by the mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders. Moreover, nonwhites and whites use marijuana at roughly the same rates while the former group is incarcerated for the behavior far more frequently. Legalization’s new industry has also been shown to stimulate local economies by hundreds of millions of dollars. 

“I think that this is a complicated area of law as we have explained,” Ruiz-Velasco said. “I do think that there wasn’t enough information out there (when the legalization bill was being considered in Illinois). But we are trying to work with legislatures now and the government to try to make sure there is something that can be done to reduce the harm that will come.”

Chicago Teen Shot In Chest After Trying To Steal A Woman’s Dog

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Chicago Teen Shot In Chest After Trying To Steal A Woman’s Dog

Chicago Police Department

A Chicago woman shot a teenage girl in the chest Friday night after she attacked the woman and tried to steal her dog. Araceli Diaz, 21, and the 14-year-old girl had arranged to meet “to conduct a sale,” according to a Chicago Police Department press release. According to authorities, the teenager pulled out a pellet gun and “struck Diaz on the head with it,” in an effort to steal Diaz’s property. That ‘property’ was a Husky puppy. Diaz, not knowing the teenager’s weapon was, in fact, a pellet gun, shot the teenager in the chest with a handgun. Diaz fled the scene in a white Cadillac but was arrested an hour later thanks to surveillance video.

Diaz is being charged with one felony count for not having a concealed carry license, resulting in one unlawful use of weapon felony charge. The teenager was hospitalized and charged the following morning with one felony count for attempted armed robbery.

Araceli Diaz is not being charged for the shooting itself, as it was considered self-defense.

CREDIT: CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT

Diaz appeared in court Sunday morning, where Judge Arthur Wesley Willis set her bail at $5,000, meaning she’d have to post $500 to be released from jail. Diaz’s attorney, Mike Walsh, told reporter Tom Schuba that Diaz breeds Huskies, and was attempting to sell the dog when the unidentified juvenile attacked her. Prosecutors have already indicated that they’ve concluded she fired the gun in self-defense. Diaz has a valid firearm owner’s identification card but did not have a valid concealed carry license, making her use of the legal weapon unlawful. 

“A BB gun can appear like a real gun and to anyone out there it’s gonna appear like a real gun, to the police, and to any individual, and if someone’s carrying and they have their own CCL they may use their own gun to defend themselves,” Chicago Police Officer Jose Jara told FOX32.

The girl reportedly ordered Diaz to the ground before assaulting her.

CREDIT: Chicago Police Department

Diaz placed the dog in the girl’s arms and told her she could take the dog home for $800, according to The Chicago Tribune. Suddenly, a nearly perfect moment (adopt, don’t shop, mi gente), became violent. The girl ordered Diaz to the ground and hit her twice on the head and face with a metal pellet gun, according to The Tribune. As the girl tried to run off with the dog, Diaz allegedly shot her twice in the chest and abdomen and fled the scene in a white Cadillac. An hour later, police tracked Diaz down using surveillance footage and found a loaded Glock handgun and magazine in the passenger seat of her car.

Prosecutors say the girl arrived with another person, according to The Chicago Tribune.

CREDIT: Google Maps

“We’re not sure where they met initially or how they communicated, but all we do know is that the 14-year-old did show up with other intentions and she pulled out a BB gun,” Jara initially told FOX32. Later, at Diaz’s court hearing, prosecutors said that the two began communicating on Facebook to arrange the sale, according to The Chicago Tribune. The teenager arrived with another person to meet Diaz at 5:45 p.m. Friday evening on the 2300 block of South Drake Avenue, prosecutors said, according to the outlet.

A petition to drop Diaz’s charges has been posted to Change.org. Only one person has signed it, and it’s the petition-writer, Jerald Fraley, who is mysteriously listed as deceased on Facebook

The teen was transported to a hospital where she was treated overnight for her gunshot wounds. She was charged Saturday morning with attempted armed robbery and is expected to appear in juvenile court on December 9, according to police.

READ: Mormon Boy Who Survived Cartel Shooting Reveals His Mom’s Last Words