The Real Paul Jones

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Domesticating Chicago

Last night we took in a great Second City etc show “From Fear to Eternity” (thanks for the great suggestion Fred). This and the note from WillR on the post below reminded me of some of the oddities that I saw on Navy Pier on Thursday.

The early Second City folks did a diner skit about a Chicago eatery called the Billy Goat Tavern (or locally BGT). The BGT still exists was WillR describes it, but there is also a BGT out on Navy Pier that is tamed down and living off its notoriety. The awning reads “cheezeborger. cheezeborger. chips … no fries” It’s hardly the greasy burger burner that Belushi and Aykroyd visited while working at Second City. There are now two other BGTs in Chicagi besides the original and the Navy Pier versions.

A similar fate has struck what was once Chicago’s best jazz club. I heard Dizzy Gillespie play Joe Segal’s in the Blackstone Hotel some years back. A few years later, I made it a point to stay at the Blackstone and to go to Joe’s smokey and authentic and acousticly wonderful room again. Since then the Blackstone was bought by the Transcendental Meditation folks who kicked out smoking, drinking and jazz as they remodeled the hotel. Joe went looking for a home and found one up on Rush Ave (a name that would surely have been appreciated by some of the talent that played the original Joe’s). But there is also a tamed Joe’s called Joe’s Bebop Cafe and Jazz Emporium — out on Navy Pier.

But the domestication of the Hog Butcher to the World is even more easily seen when you take a walk down the Miracle Mile. Yes, it’s a friendly shopping district full of the best stores — the best stores found in any upscale mall. Try looking for something unique to Chicago and you’ll see what I mean. The restaurants are even parts of chains. We did find some local places tucked away and with the help of you folks who gave us some great suggestions — like last night’s late dinner at Vong’s Thai Kitchen (thanks for that suggestion Scott).


  1. That’s bad news on the Blackstone. Next you’ll tell me the Green Mill has been yuppied up 😉 [whoops, probably missed the boat on that].

    The “neat” thing about the original BGT was the pictures on the walls (lots of famous Chicagoans, many taken at the Green Mill, a number press folk) and the chance to set across from some real icons (I had a beer there back in the Stone Ages and met Royko who was hangin’ with I believe some Cubs-related folk, et. al.). Food was no worse than Suttons but not the attraction.

  2. As far as those pictures, I meant “many taken around the BGT”…whoops.

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