Subscribe to CNC Huffpo feed
Chicago news and blog articles from The Huffington Post
Updated: 43 min 28 sec ago

Jimmy Fallon Decides If You Had The #WorstSummerJob Ever

Fri, 2015-08-07 09:45

(function(){var src_url="";if (typeof(commercial_video) == "object") {src_url += "&siteSection="+commercial_video.site_and_category;if (commercial_video.package) {src_url += "&sponsorship="+commercial_video.package;}}var script = document.createElement("script");script.src = src_url;script.async = true;var placeholder = document.querySelector(".js-fivemin-script");placeholder.parentElement.replaceChild(script, placeholder);})();


"Wiener slinger."

On Thursday, the Internet told Jimmy Fallon about some of the worst summer jobs they ever had. You think you had a terrible summer job growing up? Some of these are just brutal.

@jimmyfallon: I worked at a hot dog shack in high school... We had to wear shirts that said "Wiener Slingers". #WorstSummerJob

— Hunter Alexander (@hgalexan) August 5, 2015

At the animal hospital, a dog kept licking my face. Asked what was wrong with him they said, "hes been throwing up all day" #WorstSummerJob

— erica (@ericatuckeryo) August 5, 2015

@jimmyfallon I worked at a deli when I was 14 and one of my jobs was to rub the expiry dates off the milk products. #WorstSummerJob

— Julia (@juliagoolia72) August 6, 2015

"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC.


Also on HuffPost:

For a constant stream of entertainment news and discussion, follow HuffPost Entertainment on Viber.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

The 11 Stages Of Being A Summer Intern

Fri, 2015-08-07 07:17

If you've ever been a summer intern, you know how real the struggle can be.

Between mastering the coffee maker, making it through your first meeting, and keeping it together when your desk phone rings -- sacrificing your summer for work experience can be all kinds of stressful. Rewarding, yes, but mostly stressful. 

Below, the 11 stages of being a summer intern, from start to finish:

1. Relief

Receiving that "Congrats, you’re hired!" email was one of the best days of the year, if only for the fact that you can stop updating your résumé for a few months.

2. Freak Out

As your start date approaches, your panic increases exponentially. Are you even qualified for this job? You probably are. Kind of. Or else they wouldn’t have hired you, right? RIGHT?

3. Acceptance 

After all, intern status basically gives you license to screw up pretty much anything. Even your boss was an intern once -- they'll understand.

4. Overconfidence

You show up an hour early to your first day and you're ready to take on the world. That is, until the phone on your desk rings. 

5. Freak Out 2.0

Never mind, you’re definitely not qualified for this. Your boss saw you taking a Snapchat of your stapler and you told that joke you've been thinking about for a week -- no one laughed. You'll never forget it, but don’t worry, your co-workers already have.

6. Stress 

Although your workload is overwhelming, you keep saying "yes" to each new task. Maybe someone will be impressed and offer you a full-time job. Or if you're quiet enough they might forget you exist.

 7. Pride 

When that first compliment comes along, all the blood, sweat and anxiety seem worth it. You can’t remember the last time you felt so proud of yourself. And yeah, you treat yourself to a Snickers from the vending machine.

8. Envy

You've happily sacrificed your summer for an internship that you love, but seeing your friend's trip to Bali on Instagram makes you wonder if you should just give up on adulting and become a beach bum.

9. The Groove

You've finally settled in and things are going great. You and your coworkers have inside jokes and follow each other on Instagram. The only downside? Your internship ends in a week.

10. Liberation

The final day of your internship has come. LET FREEDOM RING. Enjoy the free pizza, endure awkward goodbyes with those who never learned your name, and step out into the world with your shiny new work experience.

11. Nostalgia 

Whether you’re heading back to college for another year or being whisked into the real world, you’ll look back fondly on your time as an intern. Except for that whole working full-time thing.

Bianca Bystrom Pino, Intern at HuffPost Hawaii, contributed to this story.

Also on HuffPost:

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Warning: These Are 5 of the Most Dangerous Jobs

Fri, 2015-08-07 04:55
Many jobs are synonymous with danger, like being a police officer, firefighter, soldier, or some other occupation that forces a person to put his or her life on the line with each new day on the job. There are many other careers, however, that do not seem obviously dangerous on the surface but are perilous nonetheless.

CareerCast compiled a list of the of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. by looking at two factors: the degree of danger one personally faces and the hazards others face while working alongside.

The number of fatal work injuries, which totaled 4,585 in 2013, also was included in the career website's rankings, though certain demographics were affected disproportionately, noted TheStreet.
"Men accounted for 4,265 fatal occupational injuries, while women represented 319. Transportation incidents caused 1,865 deaths, violence and injury by people or animal caused 773, and falls, slips and trips led to 724."
Here are five of the top 10 jobs deemed most dangerous by CareerCast, as well as the annual median wage both nationally and in Illinois, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' occupational wage data for 2013.

Airline Pilot

  • Annual median wage: $98,410

  • Annual median wage in Illinois: $107,915

  • Projected growth by 2022: -1%

Animal Care Worker

  • Annual median wage: $19,970

  • Annual median wage in Illinois: $23,441

  • Projected growth by 2022: 15%

Construction Laborer

  • Annual median wage: $29,160

  • Annual median wage in Illinois: $44,030

  • Projected growth by 2022: 25%

Emergency Medical Technician

  • Annual median wage: $31,020

  • Annual median wage in Illinois: $42,950

  • Projected growth by 2022: 23%

Enlisted Military Personnel

  • Annual median wage: $21,664 (Private First Class E-3, United States Army)

  • Annual median wage in Illinois: n/a

  • Projected growth by 2022: n/a

To see five more of the top 10 most dangerous jobs and those jobs' annual median wages, check out Reboot Illinois.

Sign up for our daily email to stay up to date with Illinois politics.

NEXT ARTICLE: The 25 most dangerous cities in Illinois

  1. Crime stat focus: Illinois counties with the most reported rapes 

  2. Top 30 jobs in Illinois with the highest annual median salaries

  3. Maxed out: Which Illinois prisons are the most overcrowded? 

  4. Top 25 Illinois cities with the most DUI arrests in 2014

  5. Want to tell your elected officials what you think of the state of government in Illinois? Use our Sound Off tool. 


-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Why New Jersey Is the Most Hated State

Thu, 2015-08-06 16:40
I was in newlywed type bliss having just arrived back home to New Jersey. Leaving the airport, I told my daughter to breathe it in, "Ahhh, do you smell that? Cologne and cigarettes." I was kidding of course; teasing the way one might tease your favorite cousin - with love and just the right amount of burn. A lady next to me heard me and chuckled, "Ha. I was just thinking the same thing. Jersey has a distinct smell." She wasn't talking about the refineries or the Turnpike (which is the only thing outsiders really know of NJ), she was talking about the familiar smell of home. This chick was from New Jersey, I knew it, because only a New Jerseyan would hear my joke, get it, and revel in it with me. I was home.

A day or two after our arrival, a recent poll by YouGov came out, identifying New Jersey as "the least liked state in America." Well, didn't that just take the wind out of my glad-to-be-home-in-NJ sails. Apparently, "New Jersey is the only state in the country which people tend to have a negative opinion of" to which I would say, "Nice going 'Jersey Shore' cast for depicting us as morons even though half your cast wasn't from New Jersey." But, hey, Jersey tomato - tomatoe. Since I was curious as to why New Jersey is the most hated state, I clicked further into the results and then investigated Jersey more on my own. After mulling it over a bit, I could see why we were the least liked state in America. Let's take a look...


Did you know that the first drive-in movie theater was opened in Camden and that the first baseball game was played in Hoboken, not to mention the first brewery in America was opened here too. Baseball? Beer? Boooooring. Talk about an unAmerican waste of time. More recently, New Jersey has been known for Carli Lloyd, the athlete who pulled out a hat trick at the 2015 World Cup Final, who people are saying might be the best US performance in a title game? And I don't want to mention Tim Howard from the Men's 2014 World Cup Team who might as well be Superman in fear that I might bore you all to death. So, you know, "thanks" New Jersey for producing such mediocre talent. And did you know that silly things like electricity and recorded sound were invented in Thomas Edison's New Jersey laboratory and that George Washington's crossing of the Delaware and victory in Trenton, NJ was the first major victory and a turning point in the war. I mean, Freedom from the Brits, really, who cares?


And get this, New Jersey, the 46th smallest state, has 36 state parks. Of the 24 states shown below, only 10 states (mostly the bigger ones) have more. But let's be real, what are parks good for? NJ also ranks high in the production of blueberries (our state fruit), peaches, and cranberries and almost all garden vegetables like the well known Jersey Tomato and Jersey Sweet Corn which come from one of the 10,000+ farms located in this tiny, dumb, park and farm friendly state. Yummy fruit and veggies? What a waste of perfectly good green space.


The YouGov survey says that people from New Jersey are "unusually likely to take a hard-nosed attitude towards life" but since it doesn't explain what they mean by this I looked up hard-nosed. It means "realistic and determined; tough-minded." So I'll read that as having a realistic, determined, and tough-minded attitude towards life. G*d damn it, New Jersey. Realistic, really? Get your head stuck high up in those clouds and stop being so rational. And while you're at it, stop being so freaking determined too. Who likes determination anyway? And tough... wait, I have a separate category for that one.


While doing my research into New Jersey, I saw lots of rich Revolutionary History; a lot of battles won and lost and a lot of blood shed on these soils. First of all, gross. Turns out that because of its location between the two major cities of Philly and New York, New Jersey was pivotal in the American Revolution, eventually being named the "Crossroads of the Revolution" and the "Military Capital of the Revolution." Apparently, we bang out a lot of tough people here. I guess tough worked for us then, but maybe, New Jersey, you could tone down your tough guy crap now that it isn't needed.


Speaking of New Jersey's location between those two cities -- Terrible (capital T). Who would want to be nestled between New York City and Philadelphia? Bleh. Awful places full of culture and history and world famous cheesesteaks. And the nearby options when you live in New Jersey are countless: the beach, skiing, mountains, and city life. So many damn options - who needs 'em. Stupid New Jersey.


According to the Science and Engineering Readiness Index, New Jersey ranks the 3rd highest state in Math and Science. What the f... Science and Math? As if those subjects matter these days. According to another dumb report released by EdWeek, New Jersey public education system ranks 3rd, among the best in the nation. Ugh! And, wait - get this - this year, New Jersey ranked second in the "Chance for Success" index and second in the number of students scoring at the advanced level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Then, it ranked third in K-12 achievement and has consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally on the report. Could you believe that garbage? Top 3? What a bunch of dummies.


In the same week, I also read's 2014 Top 10 Safest Cities in America List and would you believe that the #1 spot was my very own, Edison, NJ (and #4 was Woodbridge Twsp., NJ) Safety is so overrated. Feeling comfortable walking around alone at night or letting my kids play outside? Psh, child please. I want a little danger, a little risqué as the French say. We need a little "dancing with the devil in the pale of the moonlight" Joker type risk in our cities. We need a little danger. That's what this 35-year old mom always says. Screw safety. And Batman. And New Jersey with their safe neighborhoods.


The survey also mentioned that people from New Jersey are "unusually likely - compared to Americans in the rest of the country - to say that they enjoying going out drinking in bars." I think I'm missing something here... is this a downside?


I'd say it's obvious why New Jersey is the most hated state. Solid history, nice parks, great location, small but tough, educated, and we could throw down with the best of them at America's oldest brewery. Like that really good looking cousin that's creative, smart, and sassy to the bone who is attending Yale on a full ride because she chose not to go to Harvard on a full scholarship, sure, there is a lot to hate but that's really about you and not about her. And just like that cousin, make no mistake, Jersey is family too and only people related could tease her and get away with it. Don't say you weren't warned.


Follow Jennifer Legra at Drinking the Whole Bottle or on Facebook.

Photo Credits:
Wavian - Tough
Nik Cubrilovic - New Jersey for Dummies (adapted by DTWB)

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Top 10 Reasons Why Women Love Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

Thu, 2015-08-06 15:45

This year marks the 50th anniversaries of Medicare and Medicaid and the 80th anniversary of Social Security. Fifty-seven percent of people on Medicare, 70 percent of adults on Medicaid and 56 percent of Social Security recipients (66 percent of those over 85) are women. Together, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid provide critical health and financial security.

Here are my top 10 reasons why I love them -- and why I am committed to protecting and expanding them for my granddaughters (and grandsons).

#1: Financial security in retirement. Women live longer than men and need Social Security's guaranteed, lifetime and inflation-adjusted benefits. Two-thirds of women rely on Social Security for more than half of their income and one third of women rely on it as their ONLY source of income.

#2: Getting a healthy start in life. Medicaid pays for almost half of all births and provides mothers with access to pregnancy-related and postpartum care services.

#3: Lifting millions of women out of poverty. Social Security lifts nearly nine million women above the poverty line. Without it, nearly half of women 65 and older would be living in poverty.

#4: Affordable access to preventive services. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid (and private insurance) provide women with access to a full range of preventive services -- like cancer and diabetes screenings -- without cost-sharing.

#5: Providing access to family planning. Medicaid is the largest source of family planning care, allowing women to make decisions that protect their health and their family's well-being.

#6: Helping women navigate chronic health problems. Forty-nine percent of women 65 and older, live with three or more chronic conditions, compared to 38 percent of men. Medicare and Medicaid provide help in managing multiple physical and behavioral health problems.

#7: Financial support for disabled women. 4.4 million women receive Social Security disability benefits. Fifty-eight percent of them relied on their earned benefits for 75 percent or more of their personal income.

#8: Access to long-term care services and supports. Medicaid is the largest purchaser of long-term care services. Women receive 66 percent of home health care services and are 70 percent of the nursing home population.

#9: Access to prescription drugs. Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicaid provide critical access to medications to manage and improve health. The Affordable Care Act is lowering Medicare costs -- saving more than two million women in Part D plans over $1 billion in one year alone.

#10: Reducing disparities. As my colleague Rep. Robin Kelly (the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust) has written, "From the desegregation of health delivery centers to the improvement of overall health outcomes, Medicare and Medicaid have been critical in reducing health disparities in the African-American community." (Roll Call, Aug 4, 2015, Medicare and Medicaid: Achieving Health Equity in America.)

So now that you've seen my top 10 list, I invite you to share a list of your own.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Rauner on Property Tax Freeze Bill: Illinois Should Not Be 'Dictatorship From Chicago'

Thu, 2015-08-06 13:40

Gov. Bruce Rauner says a property tax freeze passed by the Illinois Senate this week is more evidence of Illinois being run as a "dictatorship from Chicago" by House Speaker Michael Madigan and his Democratic allies in the city.

The bill freezes property taxes for two years, proposes a change to the state's school funding formula and provides $200 million in teacher pension relief to Chicago. The Chicago Public Schools pension provision is intended to make up for Chicago taxpayers essentially being double-billed for teacher pensions: They finance Chicago teacher pensions and part of their state income tax subsidizes teacher pensions in suburban and downstate school districts.

But the bill doesn't allow local governments throughout the state to restrict the terms of collective bargaining, as Rauner has proposed.

"The bill ... (is) missing key elements that are absolutely critical in our view to deal with property taxes and that is getting local control ... of costs. Whether it's bidding, contracting, what gets bargained, what doesn't. That should be controlled locally. That shouldn't be mandated by Springfield," Rauner said in a press conference at the Capitol. "If we don't include that in our legislation and we freeze property taxes for two years... as soon as the two years are up, they're going to pop up and frankly accelerate in a lot of communities beyond what they otherwise would have. It's not a true fix to the problem. It's a small step in the fix but the real fix is get local control of costs."

That the bill contains pension relief for Chicago Public Schools but no provisions for school districts statewide indicates a bigger problem, Rauner said.

"Illinois should not be a dictatorship from Chicago. And so here's the point. Speaker Madigan could, if he wanted to hike taxes, he could. He's not been willing to do that but he's also not been willing to deal with reforms," Rauner said. "The only time he wants reform is if it's a special request from Chicago, Democrats in Chicago. That's not the right way to deal with this."

You can read what else Rauner had to say and see Madigan's response at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Senate Democrats pass property tax freeze; GOP says it's not enough

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Nuclear Disarmament: If Not Now, When?

Thu, 2015-08-06 12:46
Oh plaintive cry for justice, for change, for the world we must create, welling up from a tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean. I can only pray: Let there be an authority large enough to hear it.

My first reaction, upon learning that the Republic of the Marshall Islands -- former U.S. territory, still ravaged and radioactive, the site of 67 H-bomb tests between 1946 and 1958 -- has filed lawsuits against the nine nations that possess nuclear weapons demanding that they eliminate their arsenals, as per the provisions of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, was cringing disbelief. Are they serious? I couldn't imagine an action more futile.

But the disbelief was mixed with hope, and the hope remains vibrant as the world marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the launching of the geopolitics of M.A.D. Could hope possibly be more painful?

The anti-nuke lawsuits were filed in April 2014, in both U.S. Federal Court and the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Big surprise. The U.S. suit was dismissed some months ago as "speculative" and because the Marshall Islands "lacks standing" to bring the suit.

Yeah, upstart nation of no international significance. All it did is serve as an expendable swath of atolls in the middle of nowhere, a site ideal to absorb multiple megatons of nuclear testing over a dozen years. The islands' inhabitants were, in the arrogant, racist parlance of the time, simple "savages" whose culture, whose very lives, had far less value than the technological advancements the testing yielded. Cancer, birth defects and other consequences of radiation are the lasting result, but who cares? Three decades ago, the U.S. settled its genocidal debt to the islanders with a payment of $150 million "for all claims, past, present and future." This pittance -- this nuisance settlement -- is, of course, long gone. Too bad.

"What many Americans seem to want to forget," wrote scholar Sandra Crismon, as quoted recently by Robert Alvarez in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, "is that for the Marshallese, nuclear testing is not a historical event, as they continue to deal with the huge environmental and human health costs."

But their lawsuits in the two courts, with a decision still pending from the ICJ, isn't seeking additional compensation. The suits merely seek to hold the nuclear-armed nations accountable to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which calls for the dismantling of all nuclear weapons. How did that small provision get overlooked? Five of these nations -- the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China -- are signatories to the agreement. The other four -- Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea -- though they've snubbed the treaty, are nonetheless accountable to international law, the lawsuit maintains.

If nothing else, the tiny island nation is standing eyeball to eyeball with superpower arrogance and crippled morality.

As Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote last week in The Guardian: "One of the many ironies of history is that non-nuclear-weapon states, like Iran, have actually done far more for the cause of non-proliferation in practice than nuclear-weapon states have done on paper. Iran and other nuclear have-nots have genuinely 'walked the walk' in seeking to consolidate the non-proliferation regime. Meanwhile, states actually possessing these destructive weapons have hardly even 'talked the talk,' while completely brushing off their disarmament obligations under the non-proliferation treaty."

History's conquerors will not be the ones who free humanity from its suicidal vise. This is the paradox. The transition we have to make must emerge beyond the institutions that have trapped us.

Nuclear weaponry is the outcome of 10,000 years of human experimentation outside the circle of life. The institutions we've built, the logic we've adhered to, lead us nowhere, except to more of the same. Desperate as we are to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, we devote billions of dollars annually to upgrading our own. There are still nearly 16,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, some 1,800 on Cold War-era hair-trigger alert. We've been on the brink of self-annihilation for 70 years. What sanity can we access to save ourselves?

"Everything turned red -- the ocean, the fish, the sky and my grandfather's net. And we were 200 miles away from ground zero. A memory that can never be erased."

These are the words of Tony DeBrum, minister of foreign affairs for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, who, Alvarez tells us in his Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists essay, addressed the recent Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. DeBrum was 9 years old, out fishing with his grandfather, on March 1, 1954, when the Castle Bravo blast -- all 15 megatons of it, the largest U.S. nuclear test ever -- was detonated on Bikini Atoll. To its innocent witnesses, it must have foretold the end of the world.

The Marshall Islands lawsuits ask: If not us, who? If not now, when? These are the questions asked by those who have no choice. That means all of us should be asking them.


Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at or visit his website at


-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

One Thing You Can Do Right Now to End Childhood Hunger In Chicago

Thu, 2015-08-06 11:54
643,000 children in Illinois are food insecure according to Bob Dolgan of Illinois No Kid Hungry. The Greater Chicago Food Depository provided 67 millions pounds of food in response to this need in Chicago last year. You have a chance right now in 2 minutes to make a difference in childhood hunger in Chicago and that is by calling, tweeting, emailing or going directly to this link to contact your Senator and ask them to co-sponsor the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act that was introduced into the Senate August 5.

The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act modernizes summer meal programs so that all of that red tape you may have heard so much about - antiquated rules around summer feeding sites, not permitting mobile food delivery, etc - gets removed in one fell swoop. This bill has been Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry's greatest wish. The fact it has bi-partisan support is proof this issue is critical for all Americans. In the classic economics tradeoff guns versus butter, this legislation is one way for you to put your vote on better food as an answer to violence in stressed neighborhoods in Chicago rather than letting guns win.

On Wednesday, August 5, Sens. John Boozman (R, AR), Mitch McConnell (R, KY), Michael Bennet (D, CO), Sherrod Brown (D, OH) Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Mark Kirk (R, IL) introduced the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act, a bill which could end hunger for millions of children during the summer months.

This is a critical moment. This legislation is a momentous step forward in their work to end childhood hunger. With these improvements, as many as 6.5 million more children could have the opportunity to get the food they need during the summer months. Share Our Strength has been leading the charge in advocating for critical changes to the summer meals program, which they believe are fundamental to ending childhood hunger in America faster and on a larger scale than ever before. It is urgent that you act now to build support in the Senate for this legislation; hungry children cannot afford to wait five more years until the next reauthorization to get a summer meal.

In a nutshell, the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act would give states more options to reach hungry kids, especially in hard-to-reach regions, like rural areas or communities currently ineligible to host summer sites. Proven options like meal delivery or a monthly grocery credit would allow states to reach more children effectively and efficiently with the food they need during the summer months. This bill does this while protecting and maintaining the work the No Kid Hungry campaign has done to increase the number of summer meal sites across the country. (Here is a look at specific policies within the bill.)

Success is close, but in order for this to become part of the law this September, it must have strong support in the Senate. The time to act is now. Please contact your Senators today to ask them to cosponsor this legislation. Sometimes the smallest of things make the biggest difference, clinking on these links to support this legislation is one of them.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Sober Tents Provide A Festival Oasis For Music Lovers In Recovery

Thu, 2015-08-06 10:39

For many music fans, summer festivals are a beloved annual tradition to take in live sets from some of their favorite bands under the stars while surrounded by friends.

And for some fans, their festival experience isn’t complete without knocking back a beer or two or, in more illicit cases, using other substances.

The fact that many festivalgoers drink and do drugs makes attending such gatherings especially difficult -- if not impossible -- for music fans who are struggling with addiction or are in recovery and fear they could be triggered into using again.

Patrick Whelan, an account executive living in Kentucky, was one of those fans who assumed that his days of attending music festivals were done when he stopped drinking and using drugs in 1997. 

“I really thought my ability to go out and see music, amongst other things, was over,” Whelan told The Huffington Post in a phone interview.

But before long, Whelan realized he wasn’t alone. After he met fans in recovery who were tabling and holding meetings at a The Other Ones concert to provide support to other sober music fans, he was inspired to create similar spaces at other events.

He helped create “Soberoo,” a makeshift annual gathering at the original Bonnaroo festival, in 2002, which grew to the point where, in 2008, the festival asked him to jump on a conference call “to define what it was we were doing.”

Whelan thought their gathering was being shut down but, instead, Bonnaroo organizers asked how they could help.

Whelan has since helped recruit and deploy volunteers who staff tents at music festivals around the country. Over the years, they’ve added more festivals and have actually reached the point where more promoters are requesting their presence at events than they can actually handle.

“This really sprang from a group of music lovers who thought their life would be over without using,” Wheland explained. “We’re just filling the gap where no service was provided before. These festivals are creating a small city for the weekend and in that population there’s a group of people who would need our support. Some of these festival promoters have said they can’t believe they didn’t think of this first.”

The group will have participated in 15 festivals by year’s end, most recently at Lollapalooza in Chicago and continuing with Outside Lands in San Francisco this weekend.  They’ll also be at Nocturnal Wonderland in San Bernardino, California, come Labor Day.

At each festival, the group adjusts the name of their initiative to match the theme or feel of the event, so in Chicago, it was “SoberSide” -- a nod to the nomenclature used to divide the city's districts (e.g. South Side, West Side, Near North Side). At Outside Lands, the tent will be identified as “Sober Lands.”

At Lollapalooza, the SoberSide tent’s layout was straightforward -- a table covered with candy, festival schedules and stickers touting various sobriety-themed messages. The tent also offered water and shade and played host to meetings three times a day during which sober festivalgoers could find the support of others like them. 

Their mission at Lolla and the other festivals is similarly straightforward. The group is not associated with any 12-step programs or larger sobriety and solely provides support “for anyone trying to stay clean and sober” over the weekend in Chicago, volunteer Danielle Vence said. It is not, she added, to pass judgment on those who are not practicing sobriety as a part of their festival experience. 

“I don’t condemn anyone who drinks and I don’t shoo them away,” Vence said. “Drinkers will come by and ask, ‘What is this?’ and I’ll answer their questions because you never know what that exposure is going to lead to. A lot of people come by and say things like, ‘I’m so glad you’re here, my son was going to come but he was nervous because he’s in his first year of not using or drinking.’”

People who stop by tents like SoberSide fall into many categories -- maybe a designated driver or someone who’s chosen not to drink until they turn 21 or even someone with a loved one in recovery. Though attendance was low at the meetings the group facilitated -- this year marked only their second time at Lollapalooza, so awareness of their presence is still an issue -- they are just as helpful to guests as the volunteers running them, Vence said. 

Festival promoters have been hugely supportive of the group. The tent space for SoberSide and the group’s other tents are donated by the festival promoters, who also provide social media and promotional assistance and help them secure prime, visible real estate on their grounds, Sean Brickell, another volunteer manning the Lollapalooza tent, noted. Promoters also provide free entry for the volunteers.

“You might think their attitude would be if we have this, then we’re admitting there’s a problem,” Brickell said, “but instead they embraced it.”

The group relies on donations to cover costs including insurance and the cost of the candy and water they provide and volunteers also cover their own transportation and lodging.

That may change if the group is able to secure additional funding going forward. They are also looking to have a presence at even more festivals, including those that take place over multiple weekends and concurrent events in different cities.

In the meantime, Whelan sees “no end in sight” for the group’s efforts. It is experiences like a festivalgoer seeking them out after seeing the tent the previous year and making the decision, then, to change their lives that make all the work feel worthwhile.

“I never imagined that what we’re doing would have that kind of impact on someone’s life,” Whelan said, “that when the festival was over they maintained their dedication to making a change in their life and 365 days later they come seek us out and tell us what we did inspired them to get sober.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Jon Stewart

Thu, 2015-08-06 10:08

With his exit from late-night TV, "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart will surely leave a void in the comedy-sphere. Many would rather he not leave, but we've put our trust with him for so many years: If he believes it's his time to go, then we should trust him on that as well.

Author Lisa Rogak's incredibly in-depth biography on Stewart, Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart, reveals a plethora of information that few would know about the comedian. Stewart is not a very public guy. According to those who worked alongside him, despite his charming onscreen persona, he doesn't tend to open up to coworkers easily. He's a tough nut to crack.

But here are a few things about Jon Stewart that you likely didn't know. 


Angry Optimist is out now in hardcover and paperback through St. Martin's Press.


Also on HuffPost:

For a constant stream of entertainment news and discussion, follow HuffPost Entertainment on Viber.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.