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Badass Barhopping: Longman & Eagle's hotel opening soon, the shuttered Shady Lady and more

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Amalie Drury

It's my job to write about Chicago and all of its people, places and things. If it's new and it's cool, I'm checking it out.

You know how sometimes, when you've been on Facebook too much, you start to think of your life in status updates? Last night, I was perched on the back of The Creative Director's deep purple Yamaha V-Star in my favorite black denim skirt with the zippers on the pockets ("You're no teenager. Quit wearing that skirt!" my sister always scolds), and one sentence kept popping into my head: Amalie Drury rides motorcycles in minis. 

I'm a huge fan of alliteration and it sounded kind of badass, so I seriously considered mobile updating my status right then and there. But then I thought about my non-badass, needs-practice motorcycle dismount--the move involves gripping The Creative Director's shoulders for dear life, muttering apologies from inside my helmet, then finally flinging myself over the side with a backwards hop upon landing--so I decided to save it for later. 

We were on our way to check out the Thursday nightlife haps in Logan Square. As we cruised across a high overpass on Western Avenue, I got my first glimpse of the newly lit Trump spire. Have you seen it? It's OK. Not what anyone would call badass, just a slender glow in the middle of the skyline. I imagined it as a baby spire running to catch up with the sturdier Willis (I know, I hate writing that) and Hancock versions, holding up one feeble finger and whining, "Hey, wait for me!" 

Our first stop was dinner on the patio at Lula Cafe, an institution I'd yet to try despite hearing raves about the place for years. It was good, but The Chaser is not a food blog, so I'll just say I especially liked the pulpy, not-too-sweet margarita I ordered from the bar as we waited for a table. 

Afterwards, we carried our helmets (100% badass) over to Longman & Eagle, a place I last visited when ice covered the sidewalks. This time, I ordered what The Director informed me is the ultimate summer drink--a Shandy, a mixture of beer and lemonade, $6--but because the bar was out of lemonade, my Shandy was made with orange juice instead. Delicious, nutritious, and extremely low in alcohol, which suited me fine given the transportation situation (Dear Mom: The Creative Director does not drink and ride.)

Longman & Eagle has the atmosphere thing down pat. It's oh-so-Man in Black, which I love. The twang, the dark paint, the rusty, institutional light fixtures that cast a slightly sinister but always flattering low-watt glow...I'm into it. I guess you could say it's pretty badass, right down to the non-prissy flower planters nestled in the patio's surrounding fence. 

And now, in journalist mode, please allow me to offer this update on Longman & Eagle's planned upstairs hotel: It will open at the end of July with six rooms ($75-$250 per night) designed and curated by artists from around the world. Each room will have a cassette player and a rotating selection of mixed tapes. It will be, I'm sure, quite badass, and rather hipster-y to boot. 

On the way home, we made an unscheduled stop at a bar that appeared on Chicago mag's 100 Best Bars list earlier this year: Barra Ñ in Avondale. Another writer was assigned to review Ñ when we put together the feature, so it was my first visit, but I was happy to see a copy of the story framed and hanging on the wall by the bar. 

Before we even opened the door at Ñ I knew I was going to like it--I heard bass, booming bass, the kind of bass that sounds like a party and makes you want to dance. Inside the small, sexy space, a DJ was spinning near the front of the room while a guy on bongo drums played along. But the dance floor was empty--where was everyone? It was a Thursday night at 11:30, but most of the action was happening on the barstools, where one couple in particular was taking the concept of PDA to new, X-rated heights. Maybe it wasn't late enough, but I definitely want to go back when it's steamy and packed, as The Director says it nearly always is. 

P.S. Can you believe The Shady Lady is already closing? Well, kind of. (Shia Kapos of Crain's explains here.) The ink barely had time to dry on my review of the River North bar, which appears in the July issue of Chicago mag. I could tell something was, um, shady when one of the visionaries behind the place posted the following Facebook status update last week: Dion Antic has divorced The Shady Lady...off to greener pastures...

I guess the motorcycle-riding Antic will have to add another black star to the constellation tattoo already on his arm. Back when I interviewed him for the story, he told me there's one for each person or thing in his life he decides to write off completely. Talk about badass. Right? 

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