Not For Tourists: Guide to Chicago
- Written by Brendan Bonham
- May 11, 2012
“ ‘Cause if you knew what I knew / you would probably try to / do whatever I do / probably move to Chicago.” – The Cool Kids
You open your twelfth card sporting some lame iteration of “Congratulations, graduate!” and slide another cool hundo into your pocket. You thank the aunt you haven’t seen in a dozen years and continue to mingle with relatives and childhood friends in your parents’ back yard. Besides the money, this is your hell. You calm the waves of hate by reminding yourself that you’ll be living the Chicago life in nary two months. No more suburban drudgery.
Still, doubt slinks across the back of your brain like a caterpillar preparing to blossom into full-on panic. Trepidation. Uncertainty. Worry. Goddamn, why did you take so many English classes?
Fear not! With that grip of cash you so very badly want to smell you can buy yourself a copy of the NFT Guide to Chicago handbook. The NFT (Not For Tourists) Guide to Chicago offers a run-down of each neighborhood and the goodies that lie within. It’s a tour guide for those who plan to stay for many years. It’s an opportunity to accelerate the learning curve. It’ll make your Chicago experience several times better. Why?
Because Your Friends Are Selfish:
Sure, Lisa may have held your hair while you were ralphing your soul out of your body on your 21st birthday. And yes, Chaz loaned you a dozen condoms over the year because you were far too lazy to walk all the way to McKinley. Now they want you to move to Chicago with them. That doesn’t mean they have your best interests in mind.
Your best betch or bro knows where they want to live, and they’re going to do their best to manipulate you into agreeing with them. Do they want to live in Gold Coast? Then they’ll tell you Ukrainian Village is “full of, like, disgusting greaseball guys and girls that don’t shave their ‘pits.” Or maybe you’re pining for the awesome food scene in Andersonville. They’ll tell you that it’s “too family-friendly, and, by the way, my brother’s best friend tells me it’s so far from the nightlife it isn’t even funny.”
Your friends think they know what’s best for you (because secretly it’s what’s best for them). Be informed and make your own decision, you’re playing with your own money now.
Because Lincoln Park Won’t Even Kiss You First:
“Check it, KPMG offered me this tits job, I’m gonna make $60,000 straight out of college. Not too shabby. That’s how much dad paid for my entire four years at U of I! I’m going to get such a sick pad in Lincoln Park. That’s where everyone lives.
Dude, there’s this boss apartment at the corner of Clark and Fullerton, and rent’s only $1,200 a month! I can totally afford DirectTV, and that foosball table, and in the summer there’s no reason to turn the A/C off, because you need to show the bitches how cool I can be. Shit, parking for my 2001 3-series BMW is only $200 a month.
And brah, let me tell you, beers at Barleycorn are only $6 a piece on Saturdays, which means each biddie I scope is gonna be suckin’ down a free Bud Light before she comes back to the ole’ slampad for a taste of Mr. Moneybags’ riches. Hold on, I’m outta dough. Let me go to the ATM. It’s only a $3 service fee. I piss that kind of cash.
What? What do you mean I’m overdrawn? I MAKE $60,000 A YEAR! DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? NO ONE TOLD ME THERE’S BETTER, CHEAPER NEIGHBORHOODS I CAN LIVE IN.”
Because You Don’t Want to Be Boring:
Like every other college student you completely waste your weekend. You wake up around noon full of 4a.m. pizza, pee and last night’s memories. As the regret washes over you, you trod to your living room, toss on a How I Met Your Mother rerun you’ve seen a dozen times, and slip in and out of consciousness for the next few hours. Around three you force yourself to shower, text a few buddies to see what’s up for the evening, then stare at a clock until it’s a socially acceptable time to drink beer.
That’s not going to cut it when your peers expect you to contribute something of value to their social circle. Instead, you wake up hungover and march over to some hole-in-the-wall taco place for some sustenance. Full, you hustle up north to check out some street festival you read about in the RedEye. On the way there you see a sign for WhirlyBall, so you make a note in your iPhone to schedule that. By the time you’re done with the festival you have a few new pieces of art to your name. You swing back to your place to drop them off before you meet a few friends at a free movie in your local neighborhood park. You smuggle in wine. By the time the credits roll it’s 10:30p.m., so you slide on over to a tavern to meet some buddies. What a day.
Because Being From the Suburbs Doesn’t Mean You’re From Chicago:
Every winter you and the rest of the Smith clan would venture down to Christkindlmarket to look at some new knick-knacks for the tree. You’ll never forget the time you saw Eminem at Lollapalooza. Last Fourth of July you and six of your best buds decided to get wasted in Wrigleyville before catching fireworks at Navy Pier. Now that you’re moving to Chicago you’ll be able to enjoy similar experiences every weekend!
Two months later you’re standing against the rail at The Cubby Bear wondering when this bar started getting populated by douchebags, tourists, and douchebag tourists. Congratulations, you’re officially a citizen of Chicago! The sooner you realize the bars you dreamt of as a sophomore are, well, sophomoric, you’ll want to find the best dives your neighborhood has to offer. There you’ll find $2 drafts, a jukebox, and locals that can hold both their liquor and a conversation.
Do you think you’ll spend every Saturday in Chicago on the viewing deck of the Willis Tower? Then why would you spend your nights at the bar equivalent?
So, what’ll it be? A quick twenty bucks to save yourself from another night of excessive spending on excessive douchebaggery? Or are you content living the faux-couture life of Ikea furniture and $8 domestic drafts? The NFT Chicago can guide you. You’re not a tourist anymore.