Miss Alex White’s Top 5 Reasons to Love Chicago

Miss Alex White is the frontwoman of rock’n’roll band White Mystery, and a native City of Chicagoan.

1. Two Flats – The quintessential “castle” of Chicago is a brick two flat, that serves many purposes. Either you can live with your whole extended family under one roof and still have your own private quarters, or choose to be a landlord, and have tenants that offset your mortgage payments. Because of the Chicago Fire, much of the city was rebuilt in the first few decades of the twentieth century, and these two flats are very consistent as a result. For instance, you can visit a new friend’s apartment, and predict where the bathroom and kitchen are. Everyone’s living room is roughly the same size, which is democratizing. Hardwood floors, plaster walls, and subway tiles all characterize these gorgeous displays of Chicago architecture.

2. Hot Dogs – Three words— SYMPHONY OF FLAVOR. The Chicago-style hot dog is a typical “adult food” eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or midnight snack. It is also the perfect hangover cure in the form of a big, meaty Tylenol. You’ve got your poppy seed bun, steamed wiener, yellow mustard, chopped onion, sliced tomatoes, radioactive green relish, spicy sport peppers, pickle spear, and of course, a dash of celery salt. A Chicagoan can detect when an ingredient is missing, because they all work so beautifully together.

3. The Art Institute of Chicago – Even as a native Chicagoan, born and bred in the city, I am always excited to go to the Art Institute. It is a highly organized, gorgeous building adorned by its famous lion sculptures guarding the Michigan Avenue entrance and a brand new Modern Wing. The world-class museum offers masters from every era in art history, from the Chagall stained glass windows, to Picasso’s blue guitar-playing dude, to a big Andy Warhol rendition of Mao, medieval knights’ armor, ancient Chinese pottery, Grecian marbles, a collection of decorative glass paperweights, and little tiny doll house dioramas called the, “Thorne Rooms.” Museum members get free illy coffee, so sometimes I drop in just to get a cup of java when I’m downtown.

4. Pinball – When I walk into a drinking establishment, my eyes dart across the room, searching for the blinking lights and slick, silver ball that characterizes so many bars here. Chicago’s got pinball machines in droves due to Stearn Pinball, the world’s leading company, manufacturing the game tables in a nearby suburb. I currently hold a #1 ranking on the Metallica pinball game at LiveWire, Ghostbusters at the Emporium in Logan Square, and “Princess Leia” mode of Star Wars pinball in Wicker Park. In the words of legendary Chicago journalist, Mike Royko in the introduction to Dr. Nightlife’s Chicago for the equally legendary writer Rick Kogan, “I believe getting a drink should be a simple matter. You walk from your home to the corner bar which was usually stocked with all a reasonable person needed…shots, beers, potato chips…and a pinball machine.”

5. Alleys – Ya know when you go to a fancy restaurant on the east coast, and there’s garbage bags and dirty diapers stinking up the sidewalk? Or when you’re running to work in New York, and pass by a couch in front of someone’s house with the foreboding sign, “BEDBUGS” tacked to the upholstery? In Chicago, we have something called ALLEYS, where the garbage goes. Alleys also alleviate traffic by providing parallel shortcuts to every single street in this “Smelly Onion” town. As kids, we skateboarded in the alleys and played basketball back there. Fortunately, with alleys, most buildings also have garages, where we put our cars in Chicago. It’s nice.

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Picture by Diane Alexander White

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