Sunday, January 09, 2005


I've never really had an opportunity to boycott anything. When I first got to Chicago, prior to the Iraq war, the big student movement was to boycott Taco Bell, which at that point had a branch on campus. For all I know, it still does. I never eat at Taco Bell anyway, so I never looked into whether I had to make a special point of avoiding it. Then, there's the anti-SUV movement, which I could claim I'm supporting by either walking or taking public transportation, but the truth is I've never owned a car, never even driven a car (though that should hopefully be remedied soon--it's tough being a NYer!), so my not owning an SUV has absolutely zilch to do with the environment or with fear of dependence on foreign oil.

But as my time in college comes to an end, I feel that I've missed out from a crucial college experience. So I've decided to boycott the following, though I'll freely admit that by "boycott" I mean avoid if possible, and that I'm unlikely to last more than a few days.

  1. The Hyde Park Co-op: The local supermarket chain here is has the worst aspects of an inner-city grocery store and of an upscale, gourmet one. Everything, especially produce, is expensive, even by NYC standards, little is reliably fresh (in either sense of the term), and the theoretically enticing array of imported or exotic ingredients ends up being still more rotten (and obviously still more pricey) than the rest that the place has to offer. Apples and mass-produced Camembert--cut into either, and you're apt to find the very same shade of brown. Eggs--hard to go wrong there, right? Hardly--Eric and I once made a huge vat of spaetzle, only to notice a slightly funny, no, very funny, smell and aftertaste. So my plan is, using some combination of trips to Whole Foods, Walgreens, Fox and Obel, "normal" Chicago supermarkets, and stops at the dining halls, I'll be able to avoid the conveniently-located but dreadful Co-op for the rest of my time in Chicago.
  2. All U of C coffeeshops located in basements: It's nice, in the winter, to leave the cold and go into a warm place that serves coffee. But warm quickly transitions into stuffy, and the mixing of aromas emanating from pad thai, hummus, pizza, coffee, and shower-phobic students can be unbearable in underground rooms with no ventilation. And now that I'm shopping at Whole Foods all the time (see #1) I should probably be bringing lunch, anyway.
  3. All movie theaters other than DOC: Every night, right here on campus, you can pay $4 and see a cool movie. No food is allowed in the theater, and I happen to detest the smell of artificial butter, so this suits me just fine. Now, going downtown costs $4 round-trip plus $10 for the movie itself, and the movies tend to be less interesting, and regardless, will be shown at DOC soon after they come out in regular theaters. So, yeah, it's DOC for me from now on, or until I decide I absolutely must see something playing at the Music Box..


Anonymous said...

"a love affair with wonderful foods" - worst catchphrase of all-time?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who loves movies and lives in Chicago should find a way, at least once, to the LaSalle Bank Theater (now the LaSalle Bank Cinema, apparently). LBT shows great movies no one else in Chicago -- not the Music Box, not DOC, not Facets, not the Block, and not the Film Center -- regularly shows. These are American films spanning the history of cinema, chosen in general by a guest coordinator. The audience is a mix of young hipsters who love film and old fogeys who remember the movies of their youth. It is the only theater I am ever likely to attend in where the audience, I kid you not, applauded _William Bendix_ when he appeared on screen. And he wasn't even first billed in the movie.

I have been away from the city for a while, so I can't say for sure that the quality of the programming is still good. They appear to be showing _Out of the Past_ this weekend, which is, of course, a gem, though not a hidden one. But earlier this (well, last) year they showed _Park Row_, by Sam Fuller, _The Crowd_ by King Vidor, _City Girl_ by Murnau, and _Fallen Angel_ by Preminger. Oh, and their movie program always includes shorts -- old Tex Avery cartoons, Batman live action serials, Laurel & Hardy short comedies, etc. In fact, the short for the _Out of the Past_ showing is Felix the Cat in _Felix Trifles With Time_ (1925), which may almost itself be worth the price of admission (which I recall being somewhere around 5 bucks).

I recognize that every American city other than NY and LA is probably a second class film town. I have lived in the third class (being generous) town of Boston for a few years. But for the depth and breadth of its programming, I can assure you that LaSalle Bank can stand up to any revival/noncontemporary cinema in NY.

Sorry to get carried away there. Now I'm sure you'll end up going on some off night and have a horrible time -- with a date of one kind or another, no less, since you'll need a car to get there. But please, pick some interesting sounding movie (or even a short) and give it a shot, at least once. Though I did love the Music Box, felt I underutilized DOC (lived on the north side), ad without a doubt didn't appreciate Facets (too much international programming I was too lazy to fully explore), LBT is the only theater I actually miss sometimes.

I do wholeheartedly endorse your other two resolutions.