Girl fights, rat tails and patrons peeing outside the entrance. These are some of the memories past visitors recall of Memories, a Portage Park
bar with a live music focus.
My first memories began as a passerby en route to the Montrose Blue Line nearby. Not surprisingly, my opinion matched the visitors mentioned, after my observation of dive bar aficionados fallen into a wormhole of daily dart playing, shot taking and Marlboro smoking.
My ill memories changed once inside. Not immediately of course, the setting still unsettled with a long bar, wood paneling and patchy floors waving hello to a tin ceiling. Framed portraits of my favorite buddies – Shirley Temple, Frank Sinatra and the Stooges – attempted calming my nerves; Memories also dubs itself the "Hey Buddy Bar."
Perhaps sensing my unease, a fellow with hair down to there introduced himself. Grabbing my hand, he guided me to a small stage enveloped by brick walls where the band played in hopes I'd join.
Choppy with strings and drumsticks, I'd have preferred trying my luck at the pool or foosball table. Arcades also take stabs entertaining a crowd mostly fixed on the performance. Some onlookers appear only five hours shy of throwing on a police officer uniform or filing papers in a downtown government building. This, considering the wall-shattering music non-offensive even to the upstairs tenant walking his Siberian husky on a dewy post-midnight morning.
My final memory involves the interview needed for this very review. Because of the noise, the bartender and I swapped questions and answers via paper and pencil: What's the average price of a beer? $2.50. Does Memories offer wi-fi? No. Eventually, this became unbearable for the bartender, who, between a break in the ear-bleeding music, shrieked, "I can’t do this anymore, I need an aspirin!" Hopefully, my next memory entails getting the rest of my interview.
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez