Friday, April 04, 2008

The Fabulous Clipjoint

{Photo by Gareth Kay. Used under a Creative Commons License.}

From Fredric Brown's The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947)
We walked north two blocks on the east side of Michigan Boulevard to the Allerton Hotel. We went in, and there was a special elevator. We rode up a long time, I don't know how many floors, but the Allerton is a tall building.

The top floor was a very swanky cocktail bar. The windows were open and it was cool there. Up as high as that , the breeze was a cool breeze and not something out of a blast furnace.

We took a table by a window on the south side, looking out toward the Loop. It was beautiful in the bright sunshine. The tall, narrow buildings were like fingers reaching toward the sky. It was like something out of a science-fiction story. You couldn't quite believe it, even looking at it.

"Ain't it something, kid?"

"Beautiful as hell," I said. "But it's a clipjoint."

He grinned. The little laughing wrinkles were back in the corners of his eyes.

He said, "It's fabulous clipjoint, kid. The craziest things can happen in it, and not all of them are bad."
Though the Allerton Hotel is still here and in operation, the Tip-Top-Tap is long gone, all that's left of it the false promise of the beckoning sign. It seems cruel for our skyline to offer the warm glow of that sign, a will-o-the-wisp that disappears when you enter the elevator, find no button for the Tap, and realize that the swank luxury you'd imagined is but a chimera.

Which gives me an idea: maybe the Sun-Times, in an act of manifold civic duty, should buy and refit the Tip-Top-Tap, send out free drink coupons to all manner of elected officials, and resurrect the glory days of the Mirage? For after all, the one thing we can be sure of is that our fair city remains but a fabulous clipjoint.

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