Monday, May 3, 2010

It's Gold Motel's Vinyl District! | Gold Motel’s Guide to Chicago

While the Gold Motel caravan sailed through DC and Baltimore last week, we still have a few holdovers in the can we want to share... —Ed.

Chicago is often referred to as “the city of neighborhoods.” No matter what neighborhood you’re in, there is a vast amount of culture and diversity in dining, nightlife, and retail. The following list is some of my favorite restaurants, bars, and stores throughout the city of Chicago, and they all come highly recommended from me. If you’re ever in Chicago, make sure to stop by and check them out!

Neighborhood: Lakeview
3740 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60613

For better or worse, hearing the “last call” announcement at The Gingerman Tavern has become a very familiar sound. I have spent many afternoons and nights at this Wrigleyville haunt, sipping on whiskey and hovering over the jukebox for hours on end. The Gingerman is an extremely rare establishment – a non-sports bar hiding in the shadows of Wrigley Field. The bar host one of the hippest jukebox in the city, and it’s always a pleasure to escape the herds of Cubs fans and step into a dimly lit bar where The Smiths B-sides seem to constantly be playing. Due to it’s proximity to Wrigley Field, The Gingerman does attract the occasional fair-weather Cubs fans, but for the most part The Gingerman is populated by bikers, art students, musicians, actors, and graphic artists.

The Gingerman host a full bar with an extensive beer selection that features over 15 beers on tap and more than 100 varieties of bottled beer. The Gingerman doesn’t belong in Wrigleyville, but perhaps the stark contrast between the mellow vibe of the bar and its surrounding cacophonous environment is the Gingerman’s charm.


Neighborhood: Bucktown
1822 N. Milwaukee Ave. (Between Bloomingdale Ave. & Moffat St.) Chicago, IL 60647

When I first entered the Film program at Columbia College, I heard a lot about a little video rental store in Bucktown called Odd Obsessions. According to my professors and peers, any rare, out-of-print film I could think of was most likely stocked at Odd Obsessions. Needless to say, they were correct.

Odd Obsessions is tailored to the needs and desires of hard-core cinephiles in Chicago looking for atypical cinema. Looking for a Nicholas Ray experimental film from the late seventies? Interested in rare interviews with John Cassavetes? Odd Obsession has it all – everything from low-budget smut films from the fifties to Italian horror films from the seventies. It’s imperative to do a bit of research on what you’re seeking out before stopping in. All the films are stocked alphabetically by the director’s last name, and the selection is often overwhelming.

Needless to say, Odd Obsessions is not the place to go to if you’re looking to rent American Pie or The Hangover. This is not to say that Odd Obsession is a gathering place for film snobs, but it is to say that Odd Obsessions specializes in stocking uncommon films and catering to those seeking out a cinematic experience that’s off the beaten path of your local Blockbuster.


Neighborhood: Uptown
4802 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640

When Eddie O’Keefe (the director of Gold Motel’s “Perfect (In my Mind)” music video) and I first began discussing the art direction for the “Perfect (In My Mind)” music video, one of our first reference points was the interior of The Green Mill. The neon sign that hangs outside the famous Uptown jazz club even made it’s way into the final cut of the music video.

Upon turning twenty-one, I had already decided that my haunt would be The Green Mill. It had everything I was looking for in night-life: a vintage décor, a seductive ambience, low-key lighting, a sophisticated and well groomed clientele, incredible live jazz music, and the best gin and tonics in the city. The Green Mill is one of the few clubs I have ever been to where everyone is well behaved and respectful of one another and the musicians (don’t be surprised if you are “Shhhh-ed” by a neighboring table for being too loud!). Gangsters and celebrities haunted this nearly century-old club in The Green Mill’s early days. Now, well-heeled jazz enthusiasts and urban hipsters make up the scene. While the crowd has changed, the interior has not. The Green Mill drips with nostalgic character from the well-worn leather booths to the elegant, well furnished bar. Touring and local acts, from cool jazz to big band, take the stage each weekend; local performers play regular slots on weekdays. The Green Mill’s house band delivers some of the best live jazz Chicago has to offer, and their performances are always worth much more than the reasonable price of admission.

Neighborhood: Lakeview
3733 N. Southport, Chicago, IL 60613

The Music Box Theater is another Chicago landmark that made it’s way into Gold Motel’s “Perfect (In My Mind)” music video. I first started going to The Music Box Theater when I was in high school to catch original 35mm prints of David Lynch films, and I still go to this day.

The Music Box Theater hasn't changed much since it first opened back in 1929. For a long period of time, The Music Box was a porno theater. After undergoing many changes in management and ownership, The Music Box is now both a historic Chicago landmark and the best art-house theater in the city. You'll still see "twinkling stars" and moving cloud formations cast on the ceilings of the two auditoriums, and hear live organ music played in between films on the weekend. Cult, independent, classic and foreign films are shown on a daily basis on the theater's two screens, and the theater often host various film festivals and one of a kind midnight showings. You don’t get too many opportunities to see a mint condition 78mm print of Vertigo, or catch an out-of-print sex-exploitation film like Telephone Book except at The Music Box. Also, the popcorn is made with real butter. What more could you ask for?

Neighborhood: Boystown
3700 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60657

When summertime hits in Chicago, there is nowhere else I would rather be than on The Kit Kat Lounge’s patio, sipping on martinis and watching drag queens dance around the bar. This Chicago cabaret/restaurant features its own roster of divas: female impersonators who dress as iconic performers and lip-synch their tunes while strolling through the audience.

The lounge features a robust martini menu of around 70 concoctions, including the Angel martini garnished with a cherry speared with a white feather. The bright interior--an homage to the supper clubs of the '40s and '50s--boasts green mosaic tiles on the bar and on the floor, off-white booths and leopard and snake print vinyl chairs, and large projection screens on the wall that show art slideshows and famous film-noirs from the 1940’s.

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