This past weekend I had the good fortune of visiting the Windy City, and in the aftermath of a marathon spree through the innumerable charms and attractions of this wonderful city, I must admit to still basking in the afterglow of what I hope will become an annual or bi-annual event. Boystown, a neighborhood located in the Lakeview section and just a short ride to the Botanical Garden and North Shore Beach, was filled with hookah joints, taco eateries, loads of sushi and Japanese restaurants, as well as small clothing boutiques and independent record shops where elusive early Chicago-house tracks could be readily obtained (at reasonable prices). Residents of this area love their piercings and body-art (tattoos), as well as outdoor cafes, beer-pubs, creperies, and the world-renown Chicago-style pizza and Polish sausages, happily available until 3 in the morning. Everyone was friendly and all seemed intent on making the most of an unusually warm weekend.
I especially loved the small restaurants where the BOYB policy reigned and all the offerings from Binny's Liquor store on N. Clark could be enjoyed without a ridiculous drink(s) charge. Nothing comes close to tacos al pastor, rice and beans, lots of hot-sauce and big glasses of ice-cold Bloody Mary(s); or long platters of sushi and spicy sake poured generously into tiny glasses. After the winged barman at SPIN realized that we were in search of a deeper mix, he steered us right away to Berlin, and it was truly a dark, deep fantasy come alive in the form of no-holds dancing to serious electro-house music. The highlight of Saturday night was our trip to --really a trip into--the Berlin nightclub where DJ Larissa had the floor filled and moving nonstop through dawn. Out Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Rolling Stone, and Chicago Reader's were right in voting Berlin as Best Dance Club in Chicago. For music and dance lovers, it's the next best thing to an era past, and a dream that still persists between midnight and sunrise.
In retrospect, I could have avoided the crowds that filled the Navy Pier, as well as the $107 lunch tab (for 6 watery margaritas, 2 lukewarm stuffed peppers, 2 insipid fish-tacos, 1 order of average-tasting ceviche, and 2 ordinary lamb-sliders) by remaining in the cool of my hostess' salon. Yet the opportunity for people-watching and her assurances that it would be lots of fun kept my interest for an hour or so. It seems that all the different (and wonderful) individuals who call Chicago home, could have been easily viewed in an amazing on-line photo documentary by (new-peep) photographer Adam Novak entitled I Am Chicago. He explained that, 'the on-line gallery of photographs shows the tremendous richness of the way that Chicagoans present themselves to the public - the faces, bodies, attitudes, clothes, accessories, tools of everyday life that people lug with them - morph wildly from North to South and East to West. Our portraits document 30 Chicago corners spanning two years and all seasons. Each neighborhood of Chicago is represented through a careful selection of portraits of its citizens as they passed by our makeshift studio in the course of a single day. To entice Chicagoans to pose for our lens, a professional studio portrait was printed on the spot and given to each participant.' Wow, if I had known this beforehand, it would have saved me some major bucks (for the dreadful lunch at one of the Pier's waterside eateries), and still aching feet. Next time I'll ask around beforehand . . .
Loved Chicago, and can't wait to return for round 2 (of the American Adventure).
PS: The weekend's soundtrack is YURIY OGALTSEV's TAMERLANE SUMMER MIX
( http://soundcloud.com/yuriyogaltsev/tamerlane-summer-podcast-07-08 )