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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, June 23

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Bucket List Fri Feb 03 2012

My Chicago Bucket List: 4 AM at the Green Mill

Previous Entry: A Dance Experiment
Next Entry: Learning to Kick a Guy in the Groin

Number 15. Go home by 2am unless the late night destination is Green Mill; then go and jive hard.

Sometimes you must go and actively pursue your bucket list.

Other times the good lord drunkenly steps in at 2 a.m. and helps a sister out. And thankfully the alcohol-fuzzy stars aligned the first weekend in January to help me cross number 15 off my list: an epic night at Green Mill.

goat.jpgIt is a check mark three years in the making. The first night I was in Chicago, back in January 2009, my bestie and I had planned a night of appetizers, wine and the exciting "grownupness" of the Green Mill. Instead I got plastered on a bottle of Barefoot, climbed a goat statue and lured home my first hipster with the promise of PBR.

I think that night might have been the opposite of "grownupness." It was also what being 23 in Chicago is all about. And it was glorious.

But three years later, on the weekend of my official third anniversary with Chicago, I finally completed those well-laid plans I had back in 2009.

After a relatively calm night of revelry, my posse and I ended up at Trinity in Lakeview, feeling not so much drunk as old; our hangovers were already starting to creep into our frontal lobes by 2 a.m. And then someone recommended the Green Mill for a night cap and some jazz.

It was the first time the group I was with passed up an opportunity for some dry humping at the Big Shitty in favor of a quiet booth at the Green Mill. I was stoked.

Let me say, full of my 26-year-old sanguine nature, Green Mill was beautiful. It was dark and hazy, like the room was remembering Chicago in the 1920's before smoking bans and lung cancer. The music was loud and unpredictable but also comforting in its uncertainty. And the wine helped it all mesh together for one beautiful evening.

For me it was kind of like your first cigarette, that one you stole from your Aunt Peg and smoked outside behind the bushes while your relatives argued politics in the kitchen. The smoke feels strange in your lungs but when you exhale you feel lightheaded and better than you thought possible. And then you immediately want another.

And so I craved more Green Mill. Luckily a veteran of the bar invited me to the world-famous Sunday night Poetry Slam hosted for the past 25 years by Marc Smith (So What!). With tacos from the restaurant next door, a few beers and front row seats, I finally understood why people become addicted to cigarettes.

The Green Mill's poetry slam features anyone willing to brave the audience with their self-created poetry. From English teachers needing their creative outlet from the day-to-day monotony of their vs. there to college kids pining for days of Spice Girls innocence of sock hops, the Green Mill is a utopia of awkwardness and authenticity.

MC So What! performed a poem along with the amazing Naomi Ashley band that I think epitomizes what the Green Mill Poetry Slam is all about. To the background of the bass and drums, Marc says "The devil's good work in being yourself."

There is a type of high that comes with being yourself, a freedom that is akin to sin, a feeling of authenticity that warms the soul in such a way that you are certain you are doing something wrong. There is a haven of it every Sunday night at the Green Mill.

I thank the good lord and drunken fate for finally helping me check off number 15 and discover of bit of authenticity in the city.

Who's up for helping me check off Number 4? Chicken and porn anyone?
Join me on Feb 13th at Evil Olive as I check number four off my Bucket List and kick off Valentines Day 2012! Join the Facebook event!

Previous Entry: A Dance Experiment
Next Entry: Learning to Kick a Guy in the Groin

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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