Continued From Here.
That night at the hostel they had a happy hour, which I thought was a little odd, as they don’t have a bar, turns out it’s a guy who brings in a few cans, and hands them out for free. I met a few others, and then the guy took us for a trip to an infamous Jazz bar, previously owned by Al Capone, and still popular today. The Green Mill (a spin on the Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill) is an intimate little venue, and took a bit of time to get into for the show, but well worth it. Apparently we were sat in the very booth that Al himself used. Nicely they let us nip out to the burrito place around the corner to grab a bite to eat. I was at first apprehensive about getting Mexican food a couple days, but it was a damn good burrito and the Chicago style is somewhat different to those they serve in Mexico. So a good meal, a bit of smooth Jazz and I was getting a little sleepy, this is when our guide suggested the next venue – a comedy event in another neighborhood.
I went along, because that’s what it’s all about when you’re travelling; trying new things, experiencing the unknown – and boy I had no idea how much of experience this was going to turn out to be. The venue was an old industrial something, but now a shared artists workshop, gallery, venue and more. As we wound up through the stairs and corridors we passed a gallery of cartoonish American presidents, montages of photos, and various other intriguing artworks, then we were let into the ante-room, a gothic themed area, with more abstract artwork dotted around, and because it was coming up to Halloween, a bowl full of sweets in the middle.
The set up for the show was fairly simple, a group of actors performed for an hour, there were 60 shows to perform, each around a minute long, and the audience got to choose the plays they did. It was a fascinating set up and it was an incredible show, each show was written and directed by various members of the cast, each a bizarre and unique take on an idea. The titles of each play were barely a clue to the actual content, and there was singing, audience participation, some really dark parts, but a lot of laughs. It was described to us as a comedy show by the guide, but not by the performers, it was very funny though, and if you ever get a chance I’d really recommend going to see them. The Neo-Futurists ‘The Infinite Wrench’ – this show made my trip to Chicago, something truly unique and special that turned it from another big city to a real experience.
The next day I headed out with my new friends from the night before. They had a couple bits and pieces to tick off the list, and I was pretty happy just to tag along. The huge library is worth checking out, some really nice areas up in the roof. We explored a couple of the more hipster suburbs, found a pharmacy in an old bank vault and went thrift store shopping. Also saw the Cloud Gate again, but in the dark which was an interesting difference. But most importantly we got a real Chicago style pizza from Giordanos – I know understand why they call them pizza-pies. A thin base in a deep pan, filled with cheese, tomato sauce and toppings, then another layer of dough, more sauce, more cheese more toppings. We had a medium between three of us, and I still had a slice to take to the airport the next day, it was so filling.
Overall, Chicago didn’t blow me away too much, but finding that free mini-tour really saved it for me, showing me that there’s much more to it than just high-rises and suburban sprawl. I imagine that most major American cities have something like this though, and I don’t know if Chicago would really stand much after I see a few more places in the US. If you’re flying through, jump out and have a look, but otherwise I wouldn’t worry if you never see it.