One More Time
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One More Time
One More Time
One More Time
Festival season, also known as summer, is an exciting time—bands and fans come together to rock out in the sunshine or really, really unwelcome rain. To make it through the festivities with all your toes intact, here’s an abbreviated music festival survival guide.Stay hydrated. Beer doesn’t count.Drinking water beforehand is essential, but you should keep chugging (H2O, not booze!) during and after the festival too. And keep an eye out for the symptoms of dehydration: dizziness, heart palpitations, and little cartoon flames inside your eyes all indicate that something’s not right. You’ll want to get some shade, water, or help from a first-aid tent, lest you topple over onto someone else’s picnic blanket.Don’t be so quick to dismiss the value of steel-toe boots.If you’re lingering toward the back of the masses, it might be safe to wear flip-flops, but if your plan is to get up front, closed-toe shoes are the way to go. Hobbling to the medical tent is a lousy way to miss the encore.Keep your wits (and friends) about you.Remember to indulge with moderation, pace yourself, and have a blast, but not so much that you can’t make smart choices (or operate Instagram properly). Failing all else, use the buddy system: make sure you and a friend are keeping an eye on each other or sharing a pair of three-legged pants, and arrange for a place to meet up at the end of the evening in case you get separated.Trash cans are a hot spot for The Enemy. Bees love trash cans. They love trash cans, and they hate you. This cannot be overstated. Get in, deposit trash, get out.Illustration: Jess Snively, Groupon.Read More
Nothing in Chicago is certain—except for death, taxes, and drinking. Bars have always been an integral part of the city’s fabric, from the time when it was a small village through the period when it became a major metropolis. Nobody knows this better than Paul Durica, a Chicago historian and the founder of Pocket Guide to Hell, a series of walking tours and full-scale reenactments dedicated to exposing the city’s nefarious past. A veritable encyclopedia of Chicago trivia, Durica is full of stories about corrupt aldermen, transient hobos, and a horrifying whiskey-beer-wine cocktail known euphemistically as the “Dip of the Brush.”“What’s interesting about bars and saloons in Chicago’s history is that they also served as political centers,” Durica explains. “In the era before unions arose, working people didn’t really have many public spaces to convene in, so they would use bars and taverns as places for meeting up.” Although their social functions have largely changed, many of these bars still stand today. We swallowed hard and asked Durica to take us on a pub crawl of Chicago’s historical watering holes.Skylark2149 S. Halsted St. | Pilsen“Working-class bars often had check-cashing services, so when Friday rolled around guys could go to the bar with their check and get their money and probably spend a good portion of it on drinks. As a result of that, people were always holding these places up. The Skylark is a fairly innocuous place today, but back in the '40s and '50s it was known as Kaufman’s Tavern, and it got held up like six or seven times. The owner, Bob Kaufman, lived upstairs, and one time somebody broke into his apartment and tied him and his wife up and robbed the place. In bars like the Skylark that have been around a while, you’ll find stories like that all the time.”Haymarket Pub and Brewery737 W. Randolph St. | West Loop“Haymarket is located inside a historic old bar called Barney’s Market Grill. This place was run by a guy named Barney, who had this thing where he would greet every guest by saying ‘Yes, sir, Senator.’ A lot of politicians would hang out there, and he could never keep track of their actual titles. So he took to referring to everyone as ‘senator,’ and that became the catchphrase for the bar. Pete Crowley, the owner of Haymarket, has a lot of Barney’s stuff—menus and things—that he can show people if they’re interested.Not far away, there’s a building that’s still standing at Des Plaines and Lake. This used to be a place called Zeph’s Hall, and this was where, on the evening of the Haymarket bombing, some of the guys who had given talks that night were drinking. When the bomb went off, they had no idea what had happened, so they all just sort of dropped to the floor.”The Green Mill4802 N. Broadway | Uptown“There was an entertainer at The Green Mill named Joe E. Lewis. He was famous for vaudeville routines—singing and so forth. [Al] Capone’s people were running the bar and wanted Lewis to sign an exclusive contract, but his career was taking off and he wanted to remain flexible. One of Capone’s underlings, a man by the name of Jack ‘Machine Gun’ McGurn, took it upon himself to harass Lewis and ultimately assault him with a razor, cutting up his vocal cords and basically ending his career. Capone didn’t like this and helped pay for Lewis’s recovery, and he was eventually able to learn how to speak again and become a really successful comedian—to the extent that Frank Sinatra later made a biopic about him. While the assault on Lewis occurred in his hotel room and not at the Green Mill, it was directly connected to his performances at the Green Mill and to the mob connection there.”The Matchbox770 N. Milwaukee Ave. | West Town“McGurn himself—who some believed was also responsible for the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre—had a really sad fate in store for him. After Capone went to jail and the syndicate began to fall apart, he lost his position and all of his money. So one night in February 1936, he’s out bowling in a building that still stands at 805 N. Milwaukee. All of a sudden, three men come in and gun him down. Now, the bowling alley is no longer there, but right across the street from it is the Matchbox bar, where people can look out across the street and see the building where ‘Machine Gun’ McGurn was gunned down.”The Hideout1354 W. Wabansia Ave | Noble Square“Today The Hideout is known as a music venue, but it’s another one of those bars that has been there since the '30s. Back when it opened, it was in the middle of a big industrial area, and all the factory workers would come there and drink after work. If you look on the walls, you’ll find a lot of old photographs from long before it was The Hideout. When the current owners reopened the bar in the early ‘90s, they were still getting a lot of the old-time regulars coming in—they had worked in the area and remembered it. Architecturally, it represents a particular era in Chicago’s drinking history, when you had a lot of tucked-away neighborhood places that were basically converted houses.”Gold Star Bar1755 W. Division St. | Wicker Park“If you go up to Wicker Park, you’ll find the former Polish Broadway on Division Street. A lot of the bars there were around during the '50s and early '60s, when the novelist Nelson Algren was living. Gold Star is interesting from a historical perspective because it has a documented history of having been a brothel. ... It’s a vestige of what was a common practice at that time, which was to have a saloon on the first floor and rooms for rent upstairs. Of all those bars on Polish Broadway, it does a good job of evoking the seediness of that era.”W Cut-Rate Liquors1755 W. Division St. | Wicker Park“There’s a neighborhood story associated with another bar on that strip called Cut-Rate Liquors. If you talk to a lot of old-time Wicker Park people, the’ll tell this story, but they never seem to fix on a date. In some versions it occurs in the '60s, in others it happens in the '70s. Apparently, two guys who were longtime friends got into a fight there and for some reason —and this is the apocryphal version—there was a machete on the wall of the bar. The story goes that one of the guys took the machete off the wall and decapitated his friend.Afterwards, people in the neighborhood started calling it ‘Cut-Throat’ Liquors. You’ll hear this story told over and over again at places like Gold Star and Phyllis’ [Musical Inn], and it’s actually based on a real historical incident—but one that occurred in March of 1997. ... It involved two longtime neighborhood residents, both older men in their 70s. These guys had known each other their entire lives. They did get into a fight, and one of them had a machete concealed in his pants, which he did take out and use to attack the other guy—but he didn’t decapitate him. It’s an interesting story, because when you hear people tell it, it keeps getting pushed back closer to the Algren era, that era of seediness in the '50s and early '60s.”To learn more about Chicago’s nefarious drinking history, join Durica on one of his Pocket Guide to Hell tours or reenactments.Photos: Collin Brennan, GrouponRead More
In the rich and varied landscape of Chicago museums, one stands out among the rest: the Art Institute of Chicago. Named TripAdvisor’s top museum in the world in 2014, the AIC is home to more than 260,000 works of art, including its formidable (and highly trafficked) collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. But beneath the hoopla of these storied works—in fact, beneath the first level of the museum itself—lies a quirkier collection of European and American pieces. The Thorne Miniature Rooms present to-scale replicas of historical interiors. We sat down with the Lindsay Mican Morgan, the keeper of the rooms, to learn more about their origins and all-ages appeal.It's the Little Things That CountMican Morgan is deciding where she would live if a ray gun shrank her down to the rooms’ scale, where one inch represents one real-world foot.“I want to go to the modern rooms … the London nighttime scene [above] is gorgeous. But I think in reality, I would most enjoy some of the kitchens. I love all the pots and pans.”Mini kitchenwares made to scale, such as the ones in the 1752 Pennsylvania kitchen above, are just some of the gallery’s incredible, historically accurate details crafted by hand in the 1930s. To wit: one of the rooms boasts a gentleman’s secretary, complete with a drawer within a drawer and a key that really works. In others, viewers can just barely glimpse a side room through a doorway, but it’s fully furnished anyway. And tables throughout the rooms are scattered with in-progress checkers games or half-finished drinks.Despite their lived-in feel, one element is purposely omitted from every room: residents. According to Mican Morgan, it helps viewers, especially young ones, imagine themselves inside. In fact, it’s not uncommon for Mican Morgan to see kids in the gallery planning adventures in each room, or picking out the bed they would most like to sleep in.“I think the most charming thing is, sometimes I’ll hear [adults] talking about coming when they were a child,” says Mican Morgan. Mrs. James Ward Thorne, the dollhouse and miniatures enthusiast who commissioned the collection, gifted it to the museum in 1941. Since then, perusing the rooms that span specific eras and regions has become a cross-generational tradition for many.The History of the RoomsThe Great Depression was a stroke of luck for basically no one, except Mrs. Thorne. For a woman of her stature, it made her project extremely affordable—even commissioning custom mini couches—and allowed her to build one of the largest miniature collections on record.Her collection isn’t just large, though. It’s also accurate, thanks to Mrs. Thorne’s “a little outside the normal” passion for style and design, as well as her plentiful source material. When her tiny rooms were being built, World War I had just ended, and many of Europe’s struggling upper-class families were displaying their insular households to the public. Mrs. Thorne took to touring those homes and visiting American museums, where displays of period rooms were in vogue.In Mrs. Thorne’s era, even Queen Mary was so fascinated by miniatures that the English people gifted her an elaborate dollhouse complete with working plumbing. “Whatever the Queen does, every society lady wants to be involved in [it],” Mican Morgan notes. So it’s not a surprise that soon after, Mrs. Thorne and her team of master craftsmen began work on these now-famous miniature rooms.Mrs. Thorne's Enduring LegacyThe rooms are now decades old, and Mican Morgan reports that maintaining them is a challenging task, sometimes requiring tiny needlepoint. Arguably, the hardest part of Mican Morgan’s job is honoring the exacting vision Mrs. Thorne laid out in her sketches, which covered everything from each room’s particular layout to its lighting. “She was very specific about the time of day, the time of year. There was supposed to be a very specific type of lighting,” she says, which included natural lighting.Occasionally, hewing to Mrs. Thorne’s vision means that “romanticism trumps reality.” In the Pennsylvania kitchen above, for example, a gun complete with a powder horn is stored above the fireplace. “[It’s] a horrible idea, to have explosives over a fireplace,” Mican Morgan says, pointing to the small lapse from reality. But Mican Morgan doesn’t linger on it. In a collection that’s otherwise so perfect and intricate, the rogue powder horn is charming—and even humanizing.Photo: Mrs. James Ward Thorne, English Drawing Room of the Modern Period, 1930s, c. 1937. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne.Read More
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