Chicago's a strange city. One minute you admire the spires of some of the world's tallest buildings on bustling streets surrounded by multitudes of people. Then you warp back four decades visiting a place like Lawrel Liquors & Tap Room, which removes itself little from a truck-stop tavern in, say, Wyoming.
The tap room leans toward the granddad-basement side with wood paneling, an improvised bar before taped-up stools, low lights and Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. Notice the painting of her peering over James Dean, up against Elvis, going for the winning shot in a game of pool. It's accordingly positioned near the pool table, sitting unused during game shows and the news.
At these times, patrons get really keyed up. Frustrated with a specific Jeopardy category, one guest barked, "Opera? Who the f*@! knows about opera?" He reminded the room, "There are smart people in the world, we're just not one of 'em." They're equally passionate about politics, disdainful of George W. Bush, who apparently has been "brain dead since birth," with no more approval of Barack Obama.
That said, blacks, gays and liberals keep away or risk offense ... didn't know the "n" word was still used. My uncertain features kept me under the radar, but the average person might find holding their tongue hard at this Mayfair dive off Lawrence and Elston Avenues, hence the name. I wouldn't want to be the guy who speaks up against the potty-mouthed dude on crutches who gutted a bag of Jay’s potato chips with a switchblade.
A conjoined liquor store stocks beer, wine and spirits for the get-what-you-want-and-go kind of customer, a category I found myself in after my $2.50 Miller Lite from the bar.
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez