On July 6, 2012, the New York Times published a puff piece in which a writer – who’s previous pieces included a bit about a toy hamster, a glossary of different types of bangs, and entirely too many words about green and yellow nail polish – went to Chicago.
She’d never been, so she loaded up her ipod with Sinatra and booked a room at a downtown hotel and did a bunch of touristy things and sort of tried to absorb some local culture by barely venturing out of the immediate bubble around her hotel and she went to some douchey bars by herself and was weirded out by the fact that Chicago has such things like “a lake” and “public transportation” and “wind” and “people who say please and thank you.”
I started to write this post with no real goal except to bitch about Stephanie Rosenbloom, and to rip her a new one for taking the worst Chicago vacation of all time, and being a horrible writer. And then I was going to get all up in arms over the way she fawned over some of Chicago’s douchier establishments (I have a boner for my hometown. Sue me.). But maybe what I’m really complaining about is that this chick is the worst solo vacationer of all time.
Rather than bitch about this girl, Stephanie Rosenbloom, for an eternity – which I ASSURE YOU, I could do – I will instead hand out some tips to you, the reader, about being a better traveler on the overall.
- PLAN AND RESEARCH. My major beef with this chick is that she showed up and didn’t know fuckall about anything and YES, it’s lovely to have a tour guide take you around and explain things to you like you are an idiot/twelve, but be able to figure things out for yourself. Look into transit options. Look at a fucking map. Download an app or two that pertains to where ever you’re going. Look at Yelp reviews or a Zagat guide or go buy one of those “Not For Tourists” books. If you’re feeling super ambitious, check out the street view option on Google maps and see what a given area will actually look like, so that you can get your bearings more easily once you get there.
- EXPLORE. Chicago is a big city, and this broad stuck to a very very small part of the city that could not be more representative of the city as a whole. (This is something she would have known if she had planned or something but noooo.) As with just about every major metropolitan area, Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, each with a distinct personality and local shops and businesses that you’ll never find anywhere else. Our author stayed at a chain hotel and recommended a chain music venue (House Of Blues) and recommended a local chain in terms of nightlife. I will tip my hat to her for getting all the way out to Wicker Park, and the fact that she had the wherewithal to look into guided tours is pretty great. But there’s so much of the city that she absolutely could have seen, but didn’t.
- DON’T STICK TO THE TOURIST CRAP. Seems like a no-brainer, right? No such luck. The author went on a Chicago River architecture tour and I cannot fault her for that because those things are awesome. You basically get to drink on a boat for an hour and learn about architecture. She also managed to find herself at a touristy-but-palatable champagne bar. But that’s where my praise ends. This broad is from New York and she did the Chicago equivalent of staying in some hotel right on Times Square and not leaving the general Times Square area and only shopping in stores she can shop at anywhere. Awful. I was halfway expecting her to rave about a goddamned Segway Tour.
- DON’T PRETEND LIKE YOU KNOW IT ALL. The end of Miss Rosenbloom’s “article” included some basic “tips” that are so ignorant, they make me want to pull out my hair. She appears bewildered that all the bars in Chicago are not in one convenient pile and that she will have to somehow get herself from bar A to bar B. She also made a comment that “new high end bars and hotels mean higher prices.” Here’s the real tip that can apply to all the “tips” that she gave at the end: Use some common goddamned sense. If somewhere looks like a bad area – don’t go there. If somewhere appears overpriced – go somewhere else.
And that concludes my bitching-disguised-as-travel-