Thursday, March 29, 2012

Music Box (Lakeview)

3733 N. Southport Avenue
The cushy seats, the organ player, the ghost. Featuring independent films and classic movies like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Birds, and City Lights, the Box, as I have always called it (no one calls it that, I have actually never ever called it that) is absolutely my favorite movie theatre in Chicago. If you are a movie freak, you need to go here.

Built in 1929, the theatre was considered one of the smaller movie houses in the city at the time. Whereas other 'movie palaces' housed at least 3,000 patrons, the Music Box's main theatre capacity maxed out at 800. A second theatre was added in 1991, which I have only been in once, and is decorated like an Italian garden. It is what I would want my at-home theatre to be if I ever had one so I could gobble gelato and talk in a fake Italian accent while watching my movies.

Notable screenings include the monthly Rocky Horror Picture Show where people dress up and go nuts and the yearly Music Box Massacre around Halloween, which is 24 hours of horror films. People are serious about that one. They bring sleeping bags. Others include The Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, Sing-A-Long Grease and the yearly screening of It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street the week before Christmas.

Another cool event that the theatre participates in is Turner Classic Movies' Classic Film Festival. Traveling across the U.S. to feature 10 classic films, each movie is presented by a TCM host and special guest. My friend Katie and I saw Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds where Tippi Hedren and Ben Mankiewicz chatted it up before the screening. Tippi Hedren is an adorable elder lady and had some fascinating stories about working with Hitchcock. Last year, Katie and I saw Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for the same festival.

Tippi Hedren and Ben Mankiewicz talking about Hitchcock's The Birds

I have gone here with friends, I've taken dates here, I've gone here by myself, and I always have a grand experience. There is nothing like seeing an old movie the way it is supposed to be seen. I am such a movie person and to have access to a stellar theatre like this one makes me giddy. If they ever show Singin' in the Rain here, I will lose my s*it.

Oh, the ghost thing. I've been here a bunch of times and I never heard about the theatre harboring a ghost. Whitey, the theatre manager's, ran the Music Box from 1929 to 1977. He was a totally friendly dude and his family lived two blocks away from the joint. So the night before Thanksgiving 1977, Whitey came back to close the theater, "fell asleep on the couch in the lobby and never woke up." The Music Box website says to say hello to the ghost if you see him. I'm not going to talk to a ghost! Are you crazy??

Above: The organ player, Dennis Scott
Below: Popcorn, mmmm

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chicago Music Exchange (Lakeview)

Holy hell
If you are a music person of any caliber, whether you sing in the shower, are a professional blues guitarist, love when your walk matches the beat of the song you're listening to, or you don't quite understand why you like Katy Perry but you listen to her anyway because her songs are gosh darn catchy---you need to go to Chicago Music Exchange. Since 1990, the Exchange has been supplying Chicago with pretty much anything you would need to be a musician. Everyone on staff is a musician, and attractive, if that helps get you to this store.

3316 N. Lincoln Ave

I walked in here on Saturday floating on air as I glided past the register, euphorically staring at the hundreds of guitars on the walls. The space is enormous and loft-like with comfy couches, some velvet, and some situated around a drum kit. Orderly guitars hang in rows on every wall, of all colors, of all sparkles, of all shine, all kinds, just waiting to be played. I was pulled out of my ax shock and heard some guy say, "Hi. How are you?" I looked at him for a second because I forgot where I was for a moment. I exchanged pleasantries with him and he let me know that if I needed any help with anything to let him know. Oh, he actually worked there, he wasn't just a guy saying 'hi' for kicks.


I hung out in the acoustic guitar room for a bit, marveling at its wonderfulness, and checked out some of the ukuleles since the one I paid $30 for surprisingly (sarcasm) broke a few weeks back. I am absolutely going to buy one from this store. The same guy who said 'hi' to me when I first walked in came to check on me and asked if I was still doing okay or looking for anything in particular. What an incredibly helpful, nice gentleman.

I kept wandering around the store and saw a 16-year-old kid going to town on a guitar in one of the little practice rooms, turning up the amp to an extremely audible level so everyone in the store could hear his guitar riffs. You're gonna be a star, kid! I eventually met my friend Nick in the drum shop next door who was geeking out over a clear drum kit. It looked totally and completely cool. The drum shop was small, but mighty, and from what I overheard the sales dudes telling my friend, it sounded like they knew what they were talking about, too.

It felt like you could hang out at the Exchange all afternoon or even throw a mad party. Or you could just sit down, enjoy some music, try out guitars, read one of the many books they have on music legends, album covers, lyrics and more!

Also, I found out from their website (Chicago Music Exchange) that they have a store dog, which was NOT present when I visited. This absence means I am going to be visiting a lot more, not only for the instruments, but for TEDDY!

UPDATE: 3/29/12 I bought my new ukulele. It's a little Fender wonder and it sounds like buttah. The dudes there were incredibly nice, helpful, and found me a box in the basement to transport my new lovey in!