August 06, 2014

Out on a Tuesday Night



America's only zoo free of charge located downtown on Chicago's Lakefront.

Tuesday night is a very underrated drinking night but don't tell anyone lest word get out and those packs of overgrown frat boys start jacking it up for us old pros. I stopped in at the recently reopened The Red Lion Pub (TRLP) to knock a few back and lo and behold if the place wasn't nearly jam-packed.  I also intended on getting a few more details to do my formal introduction of TRLP but Colin (the proprietor) was busy as a beaver pulling pints while correcting some uppity grad student on some Shakespeare he had mangled. He had his hands full just keeping my whistle whetted...I did keep him busy.
Lincoln Park Conservatory


I was talking to a very nice gal, and longtime regular, 'D', of our shared enthusiasm over TRLP's rebirth when another gal walked in and was warmly greeted like the longtime friend she is of our charming host Colin.  After she tucked herself into a very well  pored Red Zin, introductions were made and this charming lady turned out to be none other than Lincoln Park's 43rd Ward Alderman Michelle Smith. For those of you not familiar with  Chicago politics, the 43rd Ward is probably only behind the 42nd Ward (which encompasses the Gold Coast, Magnificent Mile, River North, etc.) in the pecking order of most influential wards.  My new drinking buddy (I wonder if she'll start referring to herself this way at official functions) is the boss of the tony Lincoln Park neighborhood and Old Town, which contains the priciest residential real estate in the Midwest.  I usually don't immediately warm up to politicos but I really liked her as she's a straight shooter and, like the rest of us, fed up with the corruption and financial mismanagement.  Unlike the former alderman in my ward, she doesn't use her position as alderman and former hotshot prosecutor and corporate lawyer to make herself rich while placing relatives in cupcake government 'jobs' with fat salaries and fatter pensions while being unqualified.

Theatre on the Lake in Chicago's Lincoln Park


My old drinking buddy, Dutch, also stopped in with his cousin/business partner and I made introductions as Dutch & Cousin own a booming boutique hamburger joint nearby who just so happened to need some Aldermanic assistance (something about the sidewalk/alfresco dining, etc.).  Michelle (my belle) was on it. I was impressed. I gave Colin my subtle little "the Lady will have another Red Zin"  gesture and we resumed our discussion on Chicago, politics, TRLP, etc. until she begged off having to get home and up early to see that her constituents are well governed. I am starting to think that might actually be the case in Chicago's 43rd Ward.

UPDATE 8/9/2014: I got a very nice email from Alderman Smith and separately from her staff that give me further hope that green shoots of reform and competence are starting to take root in Chicago politics.  As mentioned in a previous post, The Den will profile and promote the people and institutions that are helping Chicago become The Great American City it needs to be.  We would like nothing more than to sing the praises of Alderman Smith and her staff as a shining example of highly ethical and competent governance across 6 continents (and counting).  We will keep a close eye and report our findings.

~GSL

19 comments:

  1. Always nice to hear of competent and pleasant political types. I've gone from flag-waving party whip to curmudgeonly libertarian but perhaps if I lived in Ward 43, I'd reform. Quite envious of the pub. Sounds fantastic.

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    1. Yes indeed Jen; Michelle is in her first term as Alderman which is why I and Dutch hadn't met her. Her predecessor was very much a cog in the old political machine always rubber stamping Mayoral whims however ill-advised. We even thought we spotted her upcoming political opponent eyeing our group just as suspiciously from a table towards the back.

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  2. Isn't it interesting how Chicago politics albeit local always grabs the international headlines? Isn't the windy city moniker due to the politicians campaigning if I am not mistaken? SHe looks a great lass and has a strong intelligent face. I went to Chicago once and loved it and I must say I will be popping into this red lion's pub if I make it again. Hope we get lots of gossip from the pub ok?? ;)

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    1. Yes Naomi, with our Mayor Emmanuel being Obama's former Chief of Staff and with Presidential aspirations of his own, that will continue.
      It's high time you make it back to Chicago and I will share a few juicy tidbits of gossip from time to time.

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  3. Dear GSL
    Fantastic story and it is great to see that progress in Chicago (thinking hamburger joint concerns here) can actually happen over a glass, or two, or even three, of wine.

    Now if you can just get the same kind of results with the boys and girls down in Springfield…

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    1. You are quite right about Springfield Gentle Farmer!

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  4. Lincoln Park after dark, TRLP and a new drinking belle all make for unexpected fun on a Tuesday night! Did you by chance see the short lived Boss with Kelsey Grammer? Fascinating series with stellar acting about the mayor of Chicago and the machine he controls,all the while trying to hide his degenerative brain disorder! Whew...check it out if you missed! Cheers to the rest of your week continuing at the same pace!

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    1. I haven't seen it Trudye but remember hearing about it. We'll be looking for you & Dr G. to pay us a visit at TRLP.

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    2. "Where everyone knows your name..." I am ready to hop on a flight!

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  5. Darling G,

    Already the Red lion is proving to be a Chicago hotspot. Soon there will not be a table or chair to be had for love or money.......standing room only!

    We do like the sound of Michelle. She seems just the kind of woman to get things done around town. A woman definitely after our own hearts and just the sort of Red Lion regular that is needed to keep one up to date with current affairs.....or just affairs......at Town (or is it City) Hall.

    And why, we wonder, is your drinking buddy called Dutch? Could he be from the Netherlands? Does he wear clogs? Does he live on a barge? Does he always split the bill to pay? Or, does he talk in many tongues.....no, that would make him Double Dutch! Well, another character at the Red Lion what a den of iniquity this is turning into and how we love it so!

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    1. Darlings J & L,
      Michelle was indeed a breath of fresh air and she certainly does seem the kind of gal who can get things done around town and at City Hall.
      My longtime buddy 'Dutch' is taken from his French surname and he is from a branch of a very prosperous Industrialist family who are quite prominent internationally in equestrian circles. I love watching the effect his surname has on waiters, merchants, and gold-diggers who don't know who he is. Far from being a wastrel as "drinking buddy' might imply, Dutch has made his own way in the world and has done well enough to live comfortably on his savvy investments of which his burger joint is only a small part but an invigorating project for he and his similarly resourceful cousin.

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    2. Darling G,

      ......we love him already!

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  6. GSL, of course its crowded, you put it on your blog - now everyone wants to be there!
    "I gave Colin my subtle little "the Lady will have another Red Zin" hand gesture" so gratifying to be with someone who can call the attention of the owner for a drink - or even a bartender.
    one of the things I was terribly impressed about my husband was the way he could hail a taxi in New York with the minimum of fuss and drama.
    Gosh I miss those pubs and bars where you can actually meet people. They say Chicago is the ultimate for that..

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    1. Jody, your husband Kevin does sound like my kind of guy and I do believe a Windy City excursion is in order to include a visit to TRLP and do bring my dear Tallulah as TRLP is family friendly for those of her age and up.

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  7. How refreshing to hear of a straightforward and common sense politician. The system of patronage, dishonesty and money laundering here in MA that has been passing for politics leaves one rather jaded about the whole system. It has achieved cartoon level puerility.

    Hedge and I only go out on off nights. At our age, we prefer to hear what people are saying and we don't have the patience to wait for a table. Obviously TRLP is too popular to have an off night. I know I would be there quite often if I lived in Chicago. Trudye beat me to the Cheers reference-I was going to say the it sounds like a sophisticated Cheers

    If Alderman Smith doesnt make 'habitue of TRLP' her tagline, I fear for the success of her future campaigns.

    I see the Chicago Hot Dog Festival is tomorrow. I hope you've been doing your WOD's...

    ps: I used to love the song 'Michelle'

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    1. My dear Bebe, you simply must bring Hedge and the girls to Chicago this Fall; I'll see that you'll all be kicking the tires on Lincoln Park flats before you leave. TRLP needs a whipsmart saucy redhead in residence to keep us regulars on our toes!

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  8. Thank you to those that have commented above. To those that may be interested, I have added an update to my original post.

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  9. I love this! I am just imagining tromping from bar to bar in a trench coat, a figure in the night, reporting back to us on all things Chicago - the good, the underbelly, the unheralded. Forget writing for children - you have a detective series in you!

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    1. My dear Wendy I may need you and Barry to provide backup on an upcoming underbelly assignment.

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