I've been to a pretty substantial number of bars here in Chicago (elsewhere, too, but I've covered several neighborhoods from stem to stern in this town). I've come to expect certain things from certain bars in certain neighborhoods, because there just generally tends to be a certain level of pricing and service and all that, which varies by what part of town you're drinking in.
Some areas cater to hipster kids in their studded belts and calculatedly tousled hair, drinking cosmos or whiskey sours or highballs or whatever drink is currently deemed edgy, but not quite yet trendy. Some cater to the artsy set, with schmancy decor and exquisite lighting, and martinis and scotch for the artsy-with-day-job types, and cheapish imported beer for the actual artists. Some bars go for that Irish/English/German pub ambiance, with darts tucked in one corner and footie beamed in on satellite, not to mention the token Irish/English/German regulars - the jovial and/or surly old men who sit in the corner sipping a pint or single-malt and grumbling and/or laughing at the frat boys learning to throw darts. Then there's the yuppy bars - always with a theme, juggling occasional live music stuffed in one corner and DJs on one or two nights, a great drink special every night for those new yuppies who haven't quite shed the college binge-drinking.
One neighborhood in particular, here in Chicago, has always epitomized the pre-fabricated, over-priced, affected atmosphere of all these types of bars (to me it has, anyway) - you can find all of them, and pay way too much money to probably stand in the four-deep crowd at the bar trying to order your watered-down drink, and when you get it, you can probably go stand against a wall or around a table to drink in loud-music-enforced silence. So, last night, I wound up in this neighorhood, in one of these bars, early enough to get a table and start up a tab without too much of a wait. I did my usual string of margaritas and even tried a Jaegerbomb (normally I'm not a fan of the Jaeger, but mmmmmmm that was tasty). The bomb was a wee bit pricey - $6 a hit, which seems steep for a shot, even glorified as this one was. Accordingly, especially considering the neighborhood, I expected to bend over and take it right up the ass when the time came to settle the tab.
Imagine my shock when I got my check (including dinner and four drinks) and it was under $20.
So, the point of this long, drawn out story? Apparently not *every* shitty bar in Lincoln Park is overpriced. Some are reasonably priced shitty bars.
I went to a book signing last night. First time I've ever done that, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm not really one of those people who's big on that kind of thing. I spend so much time at the altar of my own muse, I rarely acknowledge anybody else's, and I'm also not an autograph collector. Signed CDs, books, t-shirts, all that stuff has never really registered on my radar.
However, I really dug this book - I mentioned it awhile back (Inappropriate Men by Stacey Ballis) in this very diary, mentioning that parts of it were eerily like some of my own experiences (well, minus the loveless marriage and the day job at a university). So, yeah, I adored this book, and the signing was being held at one of my favorite places in the whole city of Chicago (vive la femme), and so I put it on my calendar.
I showed up last night and found the little boutique pretty much packed with women. Not being sure what exactly one is supposed to do at these kinds of things, I sort of hovered in the entry trying to assess the situation and figure out if there was an established system or something. Nope. Just milling, chatting, shopping women everywhere. I'd brought along my copy of the book to have it signed (assuming that was at least one protocol I could count on), and the store owner managed to snag the writer for me and the signing process took, like, two seconds. Other folks showed up then to have their copies signed (I think; I wasn't really paying attention), so I wandered about the store a few times, browsing the racks of really cute stuff (I was tempted by a couple things, but I really can't stand to shop in chaos like that - I'm discovering that while I love people, I don't really like crowds, per se, especially when my option is to strip down in a dressing room that protects my modesty from said crowds with only a curtain), and then made conversation with the writer's grandmother. I love that she brought her grandma as part of her entourage. That was perhaps the best part of the evening, was hearing her grandma talk about how wonderful all this was - how they'd always known Stacey was talented, and now everybody else did, too. Very sweet.
I did get to chat with Stacey (it feels weird to use her first name, as if I really know her or something; it feels stilted to say "Ms. Ballis" though, and to keep referring to her as "the writer" seems equally retarded, so what can I do?) and a friend of hers briefly before I left, and it really struck me again how bad I am at this kind of thing. I'm no good at being a fan. I worship myself too much to really set aside much of that extreme affection for someone else...except maybe John Mayer...and since I don't have that sort of gushy admiration, which I almost feel like you're "supposed" to have at these kinds of events, and neither do I really know the people or what we might have in common other than she wrote a book I really liked...I dunno. I'm babbling now, but it felt very weird to me. It was fun, but weird.
Maybe this is what people feel like when they see me play and talk to me after? Of course, minus the national distribution and widespread fame and fortune and all.
For now. [insert maniacal laugh]
Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.