with Ryan Stern
Devil in the white city. Blue and white collar. Hot and (for far too long) cold. Chicago is built upon unity through diversity.
An old timey establishment in an even older city, surrounded by nothing but new. This Green Door slants. Of course it does, it was built with a wooden frame. A practice soon outlawed.
This Tavern was built only one year after the city burned.
No better spot to corral your amigos, catch the game, and guzzle down a cold Chicago IPA. That Green Door was barely 100 feet from my first office. Happy hour?
After walking through once, I was ready to become a regular. I sat and started watching the Cubs on the screen.
Ah, friends are here. The laughs grew louder as we buy another round. Suddenly the bar is packed and it’s time to pee.
I find the sign and walk down the stairs.
Upon my first step down, a bookshelf appears on the right side. I smile, looking at the shelf. I was in awe—this was a relic not usually found in a bar nowadays.
I’m impressed…as if one day in the future I’ll come and read.
Men’s Room. I take care of business and walk out.
A fool would have missed it. Many have and many will. However, on that night, I caught a glimpse.
A slightly drunken brain was trying to register. The mother-fucking bookshelf I discussed earlier is a door.
And it’s now open—ever so slightly.
Past the door I could discern a room dark as night with stunning lights. I saw suits and beautiful dresses. Glasses in hand and eyes on the burlesque dancer on the tabletop.
I managed to get out a few audible words. “What the fuck?” I gazed, stunned. I had been fooled!
My eyes stuck to the bookshelf as I kept walking. Time stopped until I felt myself falling upward.
I was tripping up the stairs. Not down, up.
The bookshelf door closing as I landed on the top step.
Thump. That’s embarrassing.
I play it cool, go back to my table and smile. A speakeasy they call it. I look around at the scene—all types of folks, fresh off work, catching up, and drinking. Lots of beer and lots of Cubs on the screens.
The next time I’d come would be for a secret show at The Drifter, past the bookshelf. Dressed all fancy-like.
Two worlds under one roof. Unity in diversity.
So much history in a joint like this. A whole city hiding its secret downstairs or in the back.
It’s different now, but Chicago is a fun place to play the game.
These stories are the history that built this city. While you live there, live the story.