Friday, February 1, 2008

The Wiener Circle

There's a hot dog stand on Chicago's north side that has the perhaps unfortunate name The Wiener Circle (though, it's in a neighborhood that is filled with drunk college kids, so maybe the owners just know their market). As clever as it may be, it's not what brings the crowds. I've spent many a night in that neighborhood and know that it's not the only place to grab some food at 3 in the morning, so that's also not the draw. Instead, there seems to be some need for the mostly wealthy, mostly white, mostly drunk college kids to be verbally abused by the inner-city black women serving them their cheese-fries. Some of them feel the need to return the favor. 
Admittedly, I've taken people there to see just this. My brother-in-law and his mates from England celebrated his stag night in Chicago, and after many many drinks we found ourselves in that neighborhood and needing something to eat to soak up the booze. I was excited to see how drunken Englishmen would respond. So my brother-in-law got called "mother f-ing Harry Potter biatch" or something and we all blushed and got uncomfortable and sheepish while people screamed obscenities back at them. We ate our cheeseburgers and tried to feel as excited as everyone around us. 
Another time, again with drink involved, I had my double bass with me and my friend had his guitar. We had apparently spent our last few dollars at some nearby bar but were in need of things covered in cheese. We decided to convince them to give us some cheese fries if we played for them. Instead of a barrage of insults meant to make us somehow enjoy ourselves, they said Sure. So we played something akin to the blues while some kids who were not white and who were not yelling racial slurs instead gathered around us and rapped. It was strange, but I'm guessing the ladies behind the counter enjoyed it more than the yelling and awkward tension that passes for normalcy there. 

Showtime has apparently made a television series of Chicago Public Radio's This American Life, which featured The Wiener Circle: (language probably NSFW)

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