Go View: Whiplash
With limited theater options, this film isn’t necessarily an easy go to. But hell, is it worth it. Not too many weekends ago I got the opportunity and time away from hell, sorry I mean work, to experience the magic that only jazz and talent can ensue. Disclaimer, you do not need to like jazz nor have any reasonable knowledge base surrounding it. In fact, I feel it important to say: I went into this film with no prior knowledge of the title, it’s preview, or anything surrounding it whatsoever. Totally and utterly unaware this existed. Only that it was a film that came by high recommendation from a trustworthy film critic of sorts. Trying to remain as ambiguous as impossible if only for that one viewer to have a similar experience, it is by far one of the top 4 films I have seen this year.
Released October 2014 by Sony classics and written/directed by Damien Chazelle, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. Chazelle’s previous work includes Grand Piano, The Last Exorcism Part II (excuse the creative hiccup, shall we?), and a curated selection of others all seemingly in tune with the musician’s adversity. It’s no surprise to find he himself was once a member of a competitive jazz group while attending Harvard University. At Sundance Film festival this year, Sony took notice and made it’s first major acquisition with Chazelle’s “Whiplash”. Logistics aside, this film’s focus, its energy, and it’s dedication speak volumes for it’s plot and beyond that to a much bigger message. And after seeing this film you too will walk away as I did: satisfied beyond appetite, dishuffeld, and blown away. And although it took me days to digest it’s honed in perspective and story I guess it’s sometimes true when they say that big things come in small packages.
Go Drink and Snack at: Table, Donkey and Stick
Tucked away on Armitage avenue in between one notable restaurant and another lies this hole in the wall local favorite. Only through passing did I hear about Table, Donkey and Stick but beyond that, very little has been spoken in my school of fish. With this being said, I was excited to experience what could become a new favorite within close proximity of my dwellings…a personal gain unmeasurable, surely. If you’re a fat kid too, you’d understand. The music was noteworthy from the start: light disco synth to classic underground 90’s favorites to a little old school rock. I know, this sounds so wrong but it was so, so right. We had another party ahead of us so a short wait was promised and then promptly escorted to the backyard pit fire to enjoy the smokey warm aroma whilst sipping on house made cocktails. Let me warn you, this place is small, so during my voyage to the backyard I was able to really grasp the entire “grounds” this space had to offer. Home turned restaurant…think Danny’s Tavern with a nice bar and cool art on the wall…there is very little to hide.
Upon receiving the cocktail list I was placed onto cloud 9: I’m a gin fan and several house made gins and season mixers were offered, a rarity and a god damn jamboree for this girl! After being seated my partner and I made our immaculate order list and prepared for a pleasurable analysis. Once a plate was received we dissected each ingredient unbeknown to one another (which was basically all of it). Mostly earthy base dishes with flares of ingredients not usually paired. After all the meals, the good and the bad, let me say that these are the most unnecessarily complicated meals I have encountered in a while. My favorite, I feel lazy admitting it, was the liver pate. Which came served with 2 others clearly not as memorable. The soup then followed and the salad that finished was intense, interesting, but OK at best. I could appreciate that a vegetable tasted horrible singularly but eaten with the rest of it’s sister ingredients made it a whole new taste…incredible but not necessarily insanely delicious. I give it a strong 3.5 out of 5, worthy to try if only for one time.
For reservations and all other inquires see: http://tabledonkeystick.com/
Go Eat: Bang Bang Pie Shop
Nestled in the growing and ever so cool Logan Square neighborhood, this gem does not go unnoticed. With that the lines are much longer than they once were a year ago but hey, growth for the smaller businesses is always a good thing. I’ve been a long time fan on their pies for the summer, winter, when breaking up or breaking down. As the owner once told me, “pies are important”. No doubt, mi amigo, no doubt. From lavender sea salt accents on honey cream seasonal dream creations to ham and pickled slaw on a home made biscuit and a pickle that was picked by the gods. It goes without saying, this place is for everyone and can be eaten at any time on any day. Ok, maybe it’s just me but you need to go and try something savory and something sweet. Like NOW…except if it’s Sunday for brunch. I ain’t no slave for the 1+ hour wait!
Created and for a long time co-owned by Megan and David Miller from Ipsento. If you know anything about this guy and Ipsento then you know he is a man about good coffee that has pumped out roasts for Dark Matter and Star Lounge. Be ready for the dark blends! Although the couple sold their share to a friend to venture to Lincoln Square to create more yummy baked treats, Bang Bang has kept momentum. Keep an eye to the menu and be sure to visit often, the seasons bring new creations and simple but extraordinary bites.
For more information and all inquires see: http://www.bangbangpie.com/
Go Eat: WASABI
Another Logan Square gem, Wasabi boasts a multitude of awards and recognition for its soups, sushi, and ramen. But my favorite, my live and die by must have, must consume weekly favorite: the Tonkotsu Ramen bowl. I’ve been to Fat Rice, Slurping Turtle, and a range of other noteworthy ramen establishments noted in our lovely Chicago city but none stand in comparison to this bowl of beauty. The broth alone is years beyond what others offer consisting of 100% Berkshire Pork the broth is certainly rich and creamy and boasts a 45 hour completion time. Since their opening in 2010 the establishment can boast about being one of few Japanese owned Japanese restaurant. Their fish and other ingredients are flown in a daily basis even from Tokyo. Of course, a line is expected but it moves along pretty steady even on busier nights like Friday and Saturday.
For the price being almost half of those it’s been compared to in the downtown region, Wasabi is a no brainer. You should go there, you should BYOB, and you should order ramen. Then thank me for this doorway to heaven I just shared with you.
For reservations and all other inquiries see: www.wasabichicago.com
Go Watch: High Maintenance
With the Fall/Winter season comes the release of new television seasons to indulge in and friends to ignore. My personal favorites include Shameless (cheers Chicago!), Girls, Portlandia, and True Detective. But funny, not so commercial favorites include Workaholics which opened my life to Broad City and the web-series High Maintenance. If you like one of these, you like all of these. First things first, if you haven’t seen Workaholics…you need to. Three guys who smoke a lot of weed, work as telemarketers, and somehow find themselves in unlikely predicaments with babes, bosses, booze, and more. Broad City, which was once a web-series, was picked up and produced by Amy Pohler after the buzz was too loud to ignore. In sum, ‘Broad City’ consists of two girls in New York who love to get high, hate to work, and have no shame about it. If you haven’t noticed a pattern here, well I hope High Maintenance seals the deal.
A web-series created by husband and wife duo Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfield as “just an art project” took the interwebs by storm and the potheads attentions for like 14 minutes. Seriously, the episodes are only 12-16 minutes long and generally consist of people from all walks, classes, and social groups in life (or rather, Brooklyn). Each web-episode introduces a new character in an anxiety driven state that results in the call to their trusty weed guy. This nameless character is played by Sinclair himself who pretty much exemplifies the part. Funny, relatable, sad, and true the series asks very little of your time and gives so much. With that being said, their most recent episodes released with Vimeo are now available at the low cost of $1.99. Afraid of the 2-dollar commitment? No worries, you can view all the previous episodes for free on the High Maintenance website, Vimeo, or Tumblr. And similar to Workaholics and Broad City, the show really follows no schedule so seasons can be anywhere from 3 to 6 episodes (remember 5 to 10 minutes long) with “air-date” usually broadcasted only a week before. So stay tuned and stay cool.