Tag Archives: Escaping from Hyde Park

GET OUT OF HYDE PARK (An annual exhortation)

This really doesn’t happen…that…often

This is a public service announcement; an advisory; an exhortation to get into the habit now if you’re already here: there is a much wider city beyond Hyde Park. And you need to see it.

So: welcome to Hyde Park!!!

Now get out of here already.

First off, everything you need to know about cabs, buses, trains, and horse/carriages to get yourself up to town is at this link. Get on public transit. Get on a bike. Walk if you have to. You can even swim. Just don’t swim if there’s a swim ban. How do you check if there’s a swim ban? Check here. (More activities after the jump): Continue reading

SOooOoooOOOOOOoOO Chicago: A totally cliche night in LINCOLN SQUARE

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…

SOOooOOOOoOOoooOO Chicago: A Totally Cliche Outing in Logan Square

Get there before he does.

It’s no secret anymore.  Or maybe it never was a secret.  In any case, everyone knows about Logan Square now.  But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to get out there for a night on the town before every beardo in Chicago takes his be-tighted date to Longman and Eagle (which, btw, got a MICHELIN F*CKING STAR) for ironic PBR’s.  Sure, the Red Eye just did a huge profile of this exploding neighborhood.  I still insist: you don’t need to head south to Humboldt Park yet to have a totally, like, authentic Chicago outing.  Here’s what you can do in Logan Square that they didn’t talk about:

“Work from Home” – Or from New Wave Coffee, whichever you’re closer to.  New Wave has a hugely open space and is the rough equivalent of the neighborhood’s lower-key version of Wicker Park’s Filter.  If you want a smaller venue, Cafe Mustache opened more recently and is getting great reviews from totally legit Yelpers…

“I’m like, kind of an aspiring audiophile” – Retro tech is obviously now mainstream (the music industry grew in only one category last year: vinyl sales).  So head over to Saki to and take some Instagrams of yourself buying the new Black Keys pressing, you hipster. Continue reading

Winter Breaks

So you are finally done with all your papers and want a cheap way to reward yourself before heading home, or you planned your winter travel badly and have a week to kill before you go home. Either way, it is a great opportunity to bundle up and see some of Chicago’s winter sights.

Ice skating

Ice Skating in Millennium Park

See the full list after the jump. . . Continue reading

SoOoOoOo Chicago: A Totally Cliche Night in ANDERSONVILLE

Hopleaf. Mussels and brews

A few blocks west of the Berwyn CTA stop, you can have yourself a totally hip-in-the-yuppie-sense kind of night in the adorable neighborhood of Andersonville (which, is still technically kind of Uptown, but it’s cooler to call it Andersonville).  A great one-two punch is dinner and drinks at Hopleaf followed by the Saturday evening performance of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind at the Neofuturarium.

Hopleaf has two bars, and a zillion beers.  It’s cash-only at the tapless upstairs bar, but usually less crowded than the larger bar on the lower level.  For my money at a Belgian gastro, it’s got to be either Corsendonk Brown or the Maredsous 8, but at a bar like Hopleaf, it’s easy to try something new.  Don’t order a freaking Leffe.  That’s all I ask.  Splitting the Moules Mariniere and a side of frites is totally acceptable, and will only cost you 11 bucks each if you’re going Dutch.

After dinner, a little bit full of hops, head a few blocks to the Neofuturarium to catch the long running TMLMTBGB–or, 30 plays in 60 minutes.  Every show, the ensemble cast of TMLMTBGB attempts to preform 30 plays in one hour.  They write, produce, and perform all of these short plays (which last anywhere from 10 seconds to a few minutes).  There are lots of wacky rules and unsettling invasions of your personal space, and it’s all a great deal of fun.   Shows run at 11:30 on Friday and Saturday nights, but it’s not unusual for folks to start queuing up at around 10:30.  Make sure that you’ve got your Hopleaf beer jacket on as we get close to the winter months.

Warmed by the slightly schlocky performance, head back to Hopleaf afterward and stay till 3.  You’re in luck (or trouble) because Hopleaf is a 3 AM bar.  Take the Red Line back down south and catch the free UChicago shuttle back to Hyde Park at the Roosevelt stop.  The last bus leaves at 4:00 AM for HP.  See more information here.

A quick guide to Chicago theater (on the cheap)

Chicago is a fantastic theater town.  There are many big theaters but there are also great small theaters performing in church basements and storefronts. There are performances where you could reach out and touch the actors. There are over 200 theaters producing great innovative work for almost every taste.  Most of them are listed at the League of Chicago Theatres website.

Here is my basic quick guide to Chicago theaters and tips for seeing theater on the cheap.

Theater Seats

Reviews appear in the Sun Times, Tribune, Chicago Reader and TimeOut Chicago and a number of theater blogs, which given how much newspaper space for reviews has been cut can be a great place to look for information on shows. Chicago Theater Blog, Stead Style Chicago and Theatre in Chicago and Chicago Critic all have reviews.

The Chicago theater awards are known as the Jeffs (short of the Joseph Jefferson Award) so if you see a play has been Jeff nominated or Jeff Citation nominated then it means a panel of fellow Chicago theater artists think it is good.

Movement Based Theater

Check out: The Building Stage (I saw an amazing adaptation of Moby Dick here where different actors played Ishmael and Ahab) Redmoon (known for their annual spectacles and puppet, The House, TUTA (The Utopian Theatre Asylum- the first play I saw there was an adaptation of a Peter Handke novel and performed without speaking), Lookingglass (they are particularly known for their Lookingglass Alice- expect to see someone dangle from a rope), 500 Clown (you haven’t seen Macbeth until you’ve seen it done by three actors with comedia dell’arte and clown training), or Plasticene.

New Plays

Chicago Dramatists, New Leaf, Theatre Oobleck (always free if you’re broke and amazing writing) Curious Theater Branch, Victory Gardens Theatre (where  Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity debuted last year) or Collaboraction (which hosts an annual sketchbook). Continue reading

Kuma’s Corner “I’ll take the check and a bypass, please”

Dare you to finish.

Say what you will about the lines at Kuma’s Corner.  If you go on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday around actual dinner hour, chances are you will be waiting an hour or possibly more (especially if you want to sit out on the patio).  But go early (say, around 5) on a Wednesday and have a beer at the bar first.  Or, if it’s a cold afternoon, you might want a whisky, which they have ON TAP (contain yourself though, there’s a lot of eating to be done).  Bottom line, if you get there early for dinner, you’ll be able to sit down without much of a problem at all.  Lunch is murder.  I say don’t even attempt it.

And why go in the first place?  This heavy metal-themed spot in Avondale serves up arguably the best burgers in town.  Usually, I am opposed with the force of religious conviction to the idea of complicated burgers.  Give me something with lettuce, tomato, onion, and ketchup, and I’ll be good to go.

But that’s because accouterments are expected to mask a sub-par burger.  If your friend is mixing chopped onions and tomatoes into ground meat, chances are she is afraid to let the burger stand on its own.  The thinking is often: if you can put enough sh*t on the plate, people will forget what the beef is actually supposed to taste like. Continue reading

What the Natives Drink

Social Hour every Friday in fall is a great way to avoid getting started on a weekend full of work, but sometimes a body gets tired of drinking High Life (I know, perish the thought).  In other words, you might consider heading over to Kimbark Beverages or Binny’s (where, incidentally, August is “Midwest Craft Brew Month” [!!!]) to pick up some of the Midbest’s finest beers.

But alternatively, if you’re not some kind of rockafella, you can stick to these tried and true  nectars of true Midwesterners.  I’m talking of course, about the best canned beer this great nation of ours has to offer.  There’s a time and a place for delicious and expensive Spotted Cow, Two Brothers, Three Floyds’, and certain kinds of 312 (I’m partial to the Honker’s Ale, and on nights for celebrations, Matilda).  I’m not incredibly partial to Great Lakes Brewery (Ohio, please–though I do have to say Quitness Ale is one of the funniest sports-related beverages in history).

NB: I’m missing SO many here.  I’m from New York, after all.  We know nothing of cans.  Comment on some of your favorite “old man beers”–we all want to try more.

Old Style: The Shield of Chicago

If I ever see you drinking Old Style out of a glass, we’re no longer friends.

Baltimore may have Natty Bo, “a beer best consumed by the case”  (as described to me by a 45-year-old divorcee who subsequently, and with a straight face, lamented that he couldn’t imagine where his marriage had gone wrong), but Chicago produced its own magical lager in 1902 when the Pabst Brewing Company introduced Old Style.  That’s right, hipsters.  When you’re scoffing at Old Style drinkers as you swill your PBR, you’re just scoffing at yourself, and usually paying more.

Feel that?  It’s egg.  All over your face.

Do Chicago a favor and have an Old Style as soon as you arrive.  As of 2009, taking a cue from its cousin and arch-rival Schlitz “The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous,” (after the jump) Old Style had returned to an older formula.  And I say Amen.

Why drink it?: Because you live in Chicago, want to drink local, and have no money.  Because there’s a sign for Old Style on every blue collar bar in Bucktown and you can’t resist.  Because it tastes just good enough.  Because you earned it, but just barely.

Where to drink it: Bear’s games, The Cove, Lincoln Park flip cup tournaments, your drab university studio apartment staving off apocalyptic loneliness and horror,  in Regenstein when you’re trying to read Lacan, out of a brown paper bag at The Point, anywhere. Continue reading

Get Out of Hyde Park

Before we start recommending stuff that is beyond the confines of our beloved hamlet, perhaps a little info on how to get out of HP would be welcome.  Believe it or not, Hyde Park can get a little, well, nightmarishly claustrophobic.

Getting away to the North Side and farther afield will do wonders for your mental health.  And who knows?  You might actually meet someone not from the University of Chicago if you practice looking mysterious at the Bourgeois Pig, Art Institute, Green City Market, or Letizia Bakery every now and then.

Bear in mind, late night service to Hyde Park is limited to the Red and Green Lines (see below reasons not to take the Red and Green Lines) Other than that, you can take a cab.  If you have four people, cabs from the North Side back to the neighborhood cost around $25–roughly the same cost as public transit.  If you’re farther away in Wrigleyville or Logan Square, you’re looking at $30-$35.  Splittable, but a big time bummer if you’re on your own.  The point here: cabs with a group of fellow MAPHers are more affordable than you would expect, and definitely worth it as an alternative to the oft-scary late night El ride.

To find the easiest route use Google Transit.  CTA and Metra systems link up nicely.  But here is some info to start with:

Option 1: The Bus

During rush hours, there are several delightfully convenient ways to get up north.  The #2, 6 express, 10, and 28X all service various parts of HP.  Check out CTA’s incredibly accurate Bus Tracker, which provides useful information about where the 6 has broken down, the cause of the maintenance problem, and how many hours you’re going to have to wait for the next bus.  There’s even an iPhone ap!

Positives: Buses run often and from more places in Hyde Park than you can shake a stick at.  There is service from the Loop to HP until midnight or a little after.  As Phil likes to point out, transfers are only 25 cents once you get up north:  “You can get anywhere in the city for $5 round trip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Negatives: Buses just kind of suck categorically.  Traffic can *sometimes* be miserable, especially in the afternoon when you’re trying to, totally hypothetically, get to your happy hour date at The Wit.  The express buses take longer than the train, even with clear traffic. Continue reading

Theatre and MAPH and Chicago

Ben Brownson, a MAPH alum from this past year – writing on Oscar Wilde’s Salome, has kindly written up a post about theatre here at the University and around Chicago.  He is  the Assistant Box Office Manager at the Court Theatre here on campus, and his plays have been workshopped, most recently, by the Chicago Dramatists.
Continue reading