How to Drive Chicago: Turning Right on Red

8. Drive.  Turning right on a red light. Never do it if there’s a camera at the intersection. I don’t care if there’s no sign prohibiting it (which would make it legal).  I’ve gotten photo tickets via mail for making the turn notwithstanding there being no “no turn on red” warning. I went back to the intersections and snapped photos to prove the lack of a prohibiting sign and sent them to the city. They did not care. states Red Light Cameras do not take pictures of vehicles legally turning right on red after a complete stop—as required by law—

I think that’s a load of poppycock.

Do not turn right on a red light if there’s a camera no matter what.

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 Chicago : Panhandlers vs Homeless

6. Thrive.  Know the difference between panhandlers and the homeless. Both deserve your respect, but the homeless deserve your help.

Panhandlers often receive monthly Medicare or Medicaid dollars. They’ve got adequate food and shelter, but to feed addictions they find an exit ramp and launch into the ubiquitous turn my right foot inward limp, or as i call it, the panhandle shuffle. They use your donations for wants not needs.   Simply looking them in the eye while stopped at a traffic light should shock them enough that they turn away. Most people ignore them and pretend there’s not a human being trying to engage them. I’ve always found that very odd. Look at them and smile. They are not monsters. They will not hurt you. To fend off more aggressive beggars feel free to use this phrase- “good luck man”. It is like kryptonite. These people get so few well wishes that this simple phrase yields content and will end their interaction with you.

Now go out and find somebody that’s homeless that you can really help. Victims of domestic abuse or underemployment. Young adults that have aged out of foster care. People with family or relationship breakdown. Check shelters, food pantries and under viaducts. Donate money. Donate items. Provide food.

How to Drive Chicago: Red Light Cameras

Welcome to February (best month of the year).

5. Drive.  Want to avoid every red light camera ticket for the rest of your life? Simple. When approaching an intersection turn your attention to the oncoming pedestrian crossing sign. Almost all intersections now give you a giant orange countdown to when your traffic light will turn yellow. Ideal for knowing when to gun it and go for it or when to hit the brakes.  If your car’s front tires enter the intersection (which is usually designated with a thick white stripe) anytime before that light turns red, no ticket can be issued. Watch those timers and you’re welcome.  

No timers at your intersection? Then quickly look to see if there’s a red light camera. They are big and black and in the same location at every intersection. Don’t see them? Then breeze on through wary of cross traffic commencing.

Warning, this is where that karma thing may come into play.