North Side Weekly

Tilda Swinton and elderberry ale in Lakeview East.

By Rohan Sharma

On Saturday I took my second trip to the Earth, Wind & Fire–inspired bougie wonderland. I spent the morning mentally preparing myself for dads in quarter-zip sweaters or the classic half-sleeve shirt and fleece vest combo, depending on how sensitive they are to a light breeze on a sunny Easter Eve and if they’re looking to step up their brunch game. However, I quickly learned that Lakeview East is probably too hip for the picturesque family brunch scene and is instead better equipped to please the ubiquitous 20-somethings who buy vinyl on Record Store Day to hang them up in their apartments instead of spinning them at 33-and-a-third.

This past Saturday, I celebrated Easter Eve the traditional way: by catching the 11 a.m. showing at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema of Only Lovers Left Alive. The film, directed by Jim Jarmusch, revolves around vampires who are effortlessly cool and have few real problems, save for the heavy existential burden of living for eternity and supporting their blood-drinking habit in humane ways—all while sporting the latest Ray-Bans and indulging in some product placement for Apple. Prior to this the only experience I’d had with Jarmusch’s body of work was 2005’s romantic comedy-drama Broken Flowers, and 2003’s Coffee and Cigarettes, which is 95 minutes hazily held together by muddy beverages and smokes. Both films star Bill Murray, so I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond him.

I ended up really enjoying the film, not only because it creates a universe in which Tilda Swinton is immortal, but also because it’s visually striking, and the pacing of the film is such that it floats along almost aimlessly, much like the lead characters in the movie itself, who spend a great deal of time lounging shirtless on a plush couch in their rug-covered Detroit townhouse or waxing philosophically on human history between sips of thick syrupy blood bought from the local hospital’s blood bank. There are cheesy bits that I could’ve done without (the main characters are named Adam and Eve), but overall both Swinton and Tom Hiddleston deliver solid performances, and the latter will probably inspire a small revival in heroin-chic.

I should also mention that the structure that housed the cinema was unlike any other I’ve seen. The architecture itself is odd, featuring a spiraling structure that can most closely be described as a mall nestled within a pyramid. The escalators only go up and feature exposed underbellies, which is unsettling. The mall proudly bills itself as “Chicago’s Most Unique Vertical Urban Specialty Centre”—what the hell does that even mean? Who’s running the horizontal shopping game in this town? The tenants of the mall include a Hertz and a Victoria’s Secret, which I think is a fantastic combination because if I’m cruising down Halsted in a rented drop top the only way I could imagine elevating the experience is with the word “Pink” scrawled across my butt.

After descending the vertical shopping mecca, I walked down the street to Duke of Perth, a Scottish pub that claimed to have both the biggest wings and best burgers in the city, with the couple I was third wheeling. It probably takes a person with more confidence in their digestive tract than I to order the grilled haggis wings, so I settled for a burger off the “Chicago’s finest burgers!” portion of the menu. M. Hamilton—a man I am not familiar with and have no reason to trust in his taste in burgers—endowed this lofty title upon the eatery. Having eaten the burger, I can say that one should not put too much faith in M. Hamilton’s palate. It was a good burger but definitely not the city’s finest, a title perhaps more appropriate for the nearby Kuma’s Corner, which was unfortunately closed this Sunday to celebrate the 4/20 holiday.

Continuing the North Side conspiracy of charging too much for drink, I ended my mid-afternoon meal with a pint of Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale, a beer that traces its roots to ninth century Welsh druids. It was pricey but there’s no way I can resist dropping eight greenbacks to get in on some ancient mystic druid drank. For all Maroon readers with sciatica: According to the label, the elderberry in this concoction could help alleviate your sobering spinal woes.

If vertical shopping and an oddly wet burger is your idea of a great afternoon, Lakeview is your kind of neighborhood. Personally, I just felt like the people of Chicago collectively decided to avoid Lakeview that day. Blame Easter, or blame Lakeview; whatever the reason, it was just a little too quiet for my taste. Maybe I’m not giving the neighborhood a completely fair shake but I think you can get roughly the same experience strolling through an afternoon in Hyde Park.

Minus elderberry beer and Tilda Swinton nudity, I mean.