Eeek…my parents are coming!

June 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Very soon your parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, lovers, etc. will be descending on Chicago like a swarm of buzzards, ready to spend the last weekend of your MAPH career asking you about job searches, moving plans, and your love life. Even those of you who are secretly (or outwardly) excited to have your parents here in a few days might just be clamoring for them to leave by the end of the weekend, especially if you don’t plan ahead. Chicago is a bustling city and it’s going to be even more bustling this weekend with the huge annual Blues Festival and the CPAC conference (which is why we were bugging you to book hotels so early).

So, our advice is to start thinking now about how to entertain your guests this weekend during the actually extensive downtime between convocation events. Oh, and right off the bat, if you haven’t made reservations for dinner Friday or Saturday yet, DO IT NOW. We put some restaurant recommendations in the Convocation timeline post, but come see us if you’re still deciding.

In the meantime, here are some helpful ideas for actual places to go and things to do (not restaurants) around town with your folks this weekend:

1. Chicago Blues Festival: The festival runs from June 8th-10th in Grant Park and is phenomenal for so many reasons. First, it’s FREE. You can wander into Grant Park pretty much anytime between 10:00AM and 9:00PM any day of the festival, pop-a-squat on a plot of grass and listen to some high quality blues music. Or, if you do feel like spending some money, you can buy some food tickets to get Robinson’s Ribs (Remember that delicious food we served you during the Opening BBQ last summer? Yeah. That was Robinson’s.), complete with corn on the cob and mac and cheese. Yum. Or, go classy and bring a blanket and a little cooler with a bottle of wine, some brie, and some baguette for your very own “outdoor mini-Social Hour” with your folks. They’ll be so impressed.

2. Green City Market: Hands down one of the best farmer’s markets in the area. It runs on Saturdays from 7:00AM-1:00PM and it located at the south end of Lincoln Park (approximately 1790 N. Clark if you want to map it). Seriously the best thing about the market is the location because there are so many other great things to do in the Lincoln Park area. Go to the market and grab a crepe or some pizza bread, maybe some fresh, local strawberries (just out as of last week) then sit and listen to the little jazz band that plays in the late morning. Then, you can wander over to the Lincoln Park Zoo or the little shops that line Armitage in Lincoln Park (Francesca’s, Paper Source, Art Effect, just to name a few). Oh, and if you’re stopping at Art Effect on Armitage, you HAVE to go to Annette’s right across the way. They have peanut better cup cookie dough ice cream. Yes, it’s all one flavor.

3. The Lichtenstein Exhibit at the Art Institute: You really can’t beat the Art Institute in terms of impressing your parents. It’s in the heart of downtown Chicago, right by Millennium Park and the building alone is worth a 15-minute ogle. Add the fact that they currently have an amazing Roy Lichtenstein retrospective up right now and you can get in for free with your UChicago ID. Your parents will marvel at their little cultured, frugal child. And, if you want the icing on the cake, hit the Chicago Architecture Foundation gift shop afterwards (right across the street on Michigan Ave.) for some early holiday shopping. Yes, I think about Christmas all the time.

4. Old Town Art Fair: This is one of the better summer art shows that comes through Chicago. First, it’s pretty huge (as in over 260 artists). Second, it’s in one of the cute, ritzy, old Chicago neighborhoods so it’s fun just to wander and look at the architecture, even if you’re not shopping for art. The main entrance is at the intersection of Lincoln and Wisconsin and it runs both Saturday and Sunday of this coming weekend.

Hopefully these suggestions will give you a jump start on plans this weekend. Don’t forget that Chicago is also home to a ton of amazing museums and a fantastic theater scene, so we’re always happy to give you more ideas if you need them!

Convocation and You

May 24th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

It’s hard to believe that just 9 months ago we were writing the “Welcome to MAPH” blog post for you guys. And now, here we are, 9 insane months later, writing the “MAPH Convocation” post. I know you’re all busy and still have lots to finish before convocation actually happens, but just take the time right now to congratulate yourself on ALL that you have accomplished over the past 9 months. You have likely written over 200 pages of academic writing, read over 1,000 pages of fiction, theory, criticism, and/or philosophy, met a bunch of new and interesting people that will hopefully be a major support system for you as you move on to your next adventure, and expanded your mind in ways that only graduate school at the University of Chicago allows you to do.

The really exciting thing is that in three short weeks (yes, three weeks from Saturday), all of the insane stress of this program will be behind you and you can focus on the amazing journey and the benefits that you’ve gained from it. Plus your family will be in town so you’ll probably get a least one swanky, free dinner. So, let’s cut the sap and get down to business. Here’s what you need to know about convocation weekend:

Friday night from 4:00PM to 6:00PM is the Parent Reception (location: Classics 110), and it is just that: a reception for you and your parents (also friends, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc.). Please don’t let them be nervous about dressing up or anything. MAPHCentral will be slightly dressed up so we look nice to meet your families, but we’d rather you and your guests be comfortable. It’s not a sit-down dinner–more like a social hour but with better food and drink. Why do we do this? Well, because we blow most of our end-of-the-year budget on prom AND it gives you the chance to go to not one, but TWO fabulous Chicago restaurants while your parents are in town (Friday and Saturday night).

Note about the restaurants: make reservations NOW. If you’re looking for good, family-friendly (i.e., not Jimmy’s) places to bring your parents and show off the city, here are some suggestions: Shaw’s, Piccolo Sogno, The FarmhousePhil Stefani’s, or La Madia. If you just want a yummy dessert after snacking at the reception, maybe try: Hot Chocolate, La Creperie, or The Purple Pig (surprisingly Italian). Trust me, MAPHCentral can recommend Chicago restaurants for hours, so come by if you still need a place and don’t like any of these options.

(Saturday’s Events…after the jump)

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Dive Bar Challenge

December 31st, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

 

Chicago is full of watering holes. In case some of you don’t have any idea where to go for New Years, here are some ideas to kick off the Dive Bar Challenge.

The rules of this challenge are as follows: go to at least 3 of the bars and bring back some evidence of having physically been there (hazy memories don’t count, but the napkin-scrawled phone numbers of people you don’t remember meeting do). You get extra points if the bars are in a different neighborhood. The first to bring evidence to the MAPH office and present it to either me, AJ, or Whitney will receive some kind of awesome prize that will be decided if anyone actually goes through the trouble to do all of this.

 

You’ll be riding six white horses when you come to Zakopane

On to the bars…

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These are a Few of Our Favorite Things

December 9th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Now that you are all nearing the end of final paper deadlines, it’s time to take advantage of your much freer schedule by enjoying some of Chicago’s best. Seeing all of the neighborhoods and prioritizing the sites you want to visit and the food you want to eat can be slightly daunting so, for those that need a bit of guidance, here of some of MAPHCentral’s favorite places and things to do in Chicago.

Maren:

If you have a car and it’s not too cold, going out to the Morton Arboretum is fantastic.  It is a great place to walk and feel like you are not in a city and take photographs. If you want to stay in town and do something going to the Julius Meinl on Southport then up to see an old movie at the Music Box Theatre is splendid. Julius Meinl has great coffee, tea and pastries.

For holiday cheer, I love going to the Christkindlmarket and walking around the various stalls while drinking gluwein and getting little paper packets of spiced almonds and pretending I live in a German Christmas village.

For a burger  and fries, I like The Grafton in Lincoln Square where you can get curry gravy for your chips and on Sundays there is an Irish bothy band that plays traditional music. However, the best pub in Chicago is the Duke of Perth. It feels the most authentic and there are fish and chip nights and cottage pie.

Speaking of authentic if you want real buckwheat crepes filled with savory stews in an authentic French atmosphere then you want to go to La Creperie on Clark. The Boeuf Bourguinon crepe is excellent and they are close to the Landmark Century Theatre which shows lots of foreign and independent films so you can make an evening of it.

For the best (pricey but really good) cocktail in a speakeasy, meets David Lynch film, meets Wedgewood vase atmosphere you want The Violet Hour and it is nice enough to take your Mom, Aunt, sister etc. and give her a Chicago experience.

(More of MAPHCentral’s favorite things after the jump…)

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How to Make an Old Fashioned

November 12th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Try it. We dare you.

Did you know that the official cocktail of the Mentors is the Old Fashioned? Check out a top secret recipe above.

Related: Did you know that the official tie is the bow tie?

You might as well learn how to DO something while you’re here. Sheesh.

Places to hide and work

October 27th, 2011 § 5 comments § permalink

So after the MAPH Halloween Party many of you may be looking for that place to hide and work on your Lacan paper free from the distractions of your usual haunts. Here are some recommendations for places work around Hyde Park and Chicago.

 

Exterior of The Bourgeois Pig on a warm day.

North and Northwest Side

Head north and off the Fullerton el stop you can go to the Bourgeois Pig where they have good tea, coffee, sandwiches and lavender shortbread and if you find a table you can stay for a very long time undisturbed. It can get a bit busy so if background noise is not your preference choose another spot.

If you venture as far north and west as Lincoln Square  (off the Western Brown line stop) you have your pick of coffee shops. You can switch from one to another though out the day. For those into branding there is a Starbucks, but even better are the little coffee shops  The Grind, and Cafe Neo where laptops are welcome and you can stay all day. If you need a break you can always shop the secondhand stores or the the independent bookshop the Book Cellar (which also has a cafe) or take in a movie at the Davis as a reward for a day of hard work.  Further down Lincoln Ave. is a Chicago Public Library branch and a Julius Meinl where you can also study in peace.  There is another Julius Meinl on Southport and Addison (Wrigleyville) which is equally pleasant and close to both red and brown line stations.

Alliance Bakery’s vintage-y sign

Ben’s pick’s for good places to work are Noble Tree (Lincoln Park) it is four stories and has lots of space to hide and write and Dollop (Edgewater) and Cafe Mustache (Logan Square- near the California Blue line stop).  I’d add Alliance Bakery which has decent French macaroons and a nice room next door where you can work while you nibble your pastries and sip your beverage.

Hyde Park

So you need to avoid Harper and Z&H or the Regenstein. If you need the quiet of a library a library and don’t want to run into fellow MAPHers who might distract you try studying in the Crerar Library or the Law School Library. If you need caffeine with your studies, There is an Istria coffee shop in the Hyde Park Art Center or the Smart Cafe is also great. Bonjour Bakery is another  option and a bit removed from campus.

Downtown

Intelligentsia

Just a short bus ride from Hyde Park. You can use the Harold Washington Library on State Street or the DePaul University Library (just enter the DePaul building on State and Jackson through the Barnes and Noble and take the elevators upstairs) you do not need an ID to enter it is always quiet and full of business journals which will not be distracting.  There are great tables in the Chicago Cultural Center where you can camp out and if you need a break you can peek at whichever free exhibit is on display. Right next door to the Cultural Center is an Intelligentsia with great coffee there is another Intelligentsia on Jackson Ave, close to the Harold Washington Library.

Happy haunting and happy studying.

 

 

 

 

Use that Student Loan “Living Expenses” Money

August 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Bring Wine to HB. Stay for Dinner

What recession? You’re flush with loan money (aka Play Money….aka money that you’ll have to be careful with and keep safe and spend on books).

Or, well, for now, you’re new to town, and can use your green status as an excuse so treat yourself to (just one, you swear) really fantastic meal before the whirlwind starts up. Chicago is up there with New York and San Francisco when it comes to gustatory delights. And if you think it’s a steakhouse-only town, here are some places that will disabuse you of this rumor. These places won’t break the bank wide open (and if you’re interested in Alinea, Charlie Trotter, L2O, or any of the others, you might start trying to get reservations now…).

Rather, these places are more than delicious for the price of entry.

1) HB: Up in Lakeview, chef and owner Joncarl Lochman puts together a menu of wildly different flavors and ingredients that are locally sourced. HB offers a contemporary take on comfort food, and it’s one of two BYO’s on my list. Prices are really, really reasonable for both the portions and the quality of the food. You never feel rushed either–but make a reservation if you can. (Wallet impact with wine: Pricey / Without wine: downright reasonable)

If you’re stumped on wine, hop across the street to The Gourmet Grape and pick up a bottle. Here are some recommendations of some CA wines they have on offer:

  • Merlot: 2005 Duckhorn, Napa (expensive, but really delicious: $57)
  • Zinfandel: 2006 Trentadue, Sonoma (moderate: $17)
  • Sauvignon Blanc: 2007 Trinitas, Napa (moderate $18)

(More guilt-inducing indulgences after the jump…) » Read the rest of this entry «

Milwaukee Ave Coffee Shops

August 15th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Just the mention of Bridgeport Coffee Company got me thinking about my favorite places to get a caffeine fix in Chicago–a city awash in coffee. Four of my top choices are on Milwaukee Avenue. For anyone new to Chicago, Milwaukee Ave is a great way to get an introduction via bike ride / walk / El to Chicago’s Northwest Side. It’s the main artery: a street known for heavy bike traffic, vintage stores, restaurants, bars, and cafes. Over the past 20 years, the effects of gentrification (there it is: the g-word) have marched up Milwaukee Ave.

Perhaps more pertinent for new students and alums alike, the neighborhoods along this major diagonal artery (East Village [or, more recently according to silly apartment rental sites: Noble Square], Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square) are heavily populated by graduates of MAPH. You’ll find them busily at work at Lovely Bakery, Filter, Wormhole, and Cafe Mustache. (For natives: obviously, there are others on the list to be sure. Some, I don’t know well enough to comment on, so feel free to chime in. Others, namely New Wave Coffee, just make me sad. You could be so great New Wave. Why do you suck so much) Tour de Caffeine, after the jump…

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SoooOOoooOOOOOO Chicago: BRIDGEPORT

August 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

 

I smell hipsters. (And coffee).

Perhaps best known as the home base of the Daly dynasty (you know, the American Pharaohs), Bridgeport is a small and eclectic neighborhood on the near South Side (though it’s only an 8 minute drive from Hyde Park, it takes about an hour to get there via public transit. Trust me. I know). For one reason or another, its residents fiercely defend the distinctiveness of the neighborhood. The local Assembly of God has gone as far as to make their own custom “Bridgeportopoly” which you can buy or win as a prize at Bernice’s Tavern (see below). » Read the rest of this entry «

SOooOoooOOOOOOoOO Chicago: A totally cliche night in LINCOLN SQUARE

February 14th, 2011 § 5 comments § permalink

Worth the hike

Lincoln Square feels like a cheerful little Chicago suburb.  That’s kind of what it is.  There’s no doubt that it’s pretty f’n far from everything, but a long escape from Hyde Park never hurt anyone. Lincoln Square used to be home to a big German immigrant population.  A few brauhauses still dot the neighborhood, and you’ll find one of the city’s largest Christkindl markets there in December.  In all,

Here’s a pretty generic evening to increase the happiness in your life.

A movie at The Davis Theatre: Shows before 6 PM are a paltry $5.50, and though the screens might cut off part of the frame (picture quality was sacrificed in exchange for more capacity a few years back), the seats are warmly worn and the crowd is friendly.

Dinner at The Grafton: A pub just down the street, The Grafton caters to local clientele and serves basic pub fare.  The selection of whiskey and the warm, dark ambience are perfect for the “relentless” part of winter.  You know, when it’s still cold and windy and rainy, and all you want is for the days to get longer.

Drinks at Huttenbar: It’s a German part of town.  Go grab a pilsnerbier and be merry.  Just be sure to only use one hand when you’re drinking.  Germans apparently don’t like it when you grasp a mug with two hands.  Don’t ask how I know this.  I just.  Do.

Getting There: Take the brown line forever.  (Just kidding, get off at Damen or Western on the Brown.  It can take as little as 45 minutes to get up there if you time the transfer from Millennium or the Bus the right way).  Keep in mind that your tour directors (mentors) are always able to talk about things up north to do to keep you sane…