#948: A Drink at Hinky Dink’s

July 2nd, 2018

It’s the home of sweatshirts and domestic beer, Bud Light bottles and Steppenwolf overhead. Cubs on two TVs, Sox on two, but when the classic rock dies down, the sound is Sox, even in the seventh-inning stretch.

“-eanuts and Cracker Jack,” the guest singers for the late April Cubs game wordlessly mouth.

The air was rife with politics in this Mount Greenwood bar, not debate on topics of note, but the unspoke assumption of likeness. If you’re here, it’s assumed you back the badge, the troops, the Commander in Chief. Framed portraits of cops in the pool room, a posters of firefighter badges from different cities speaking of the honor of service. Red, white and blue bunting and plaques honoring individuals firefighters, Chicago cops and military servicemen killed in the line of duty.

Mount Greenwood is a city-worker haven, the farthest out cops and firefighters who would otherwise flee to the suburbs can run and still hew to their jobs’ residency requirement. Bar, patron and street outside wear their politics with pride, from the trees ribboned in police blue along 111th to the “Back the Badge” cap worn by the bearded guy on the end of the bar demolishing a Bud Light bucket with a pal.

It’s not my kind of place. But I felt comfortable and welcomed there, which bothered me.

The bar celebrates authority, Irishness, Chicago sports and domestic beer with a disturbing nondualism. Shamrock acts equally as logo for Miller Lite, the Blackhawks and the cops. Honoring individual fallen officers with tasteful, deserved plaques gets conflated with a kowtow obeisance to “The Badge” and anyone whose job comes with one. It’s all the same at Hinky Dink’s on 111th. A = B = X, Y, Z.

Mount Greenwood has been raked over the coals for its politics, whiteness, conservative voting habits (Trump won 70 percent of the Mount Greenwood vote, for which the Chicago Reader named it “Worst of Chicago”) and suburbs-within-city-borders aesthetic. White Chicago uses Mount Greenwood to forgive ourselves our sins.

Is a coarse, conservative white enclave better or worse than an effete, liberal one? Would the whiteness leaching into Hinky Dink’s air like the smell of the cigarettes the men went out back to smoke be lessened if the beer were craft and the soundtrack from the TVs blaring Cubs instead of Sox?

Do I dislike this place because of its segregated whiteness or because it’s not the segregated whiteness I’m used to?

Mount Greenwood is 87 percent white. I live in North Center, 77 percent Caucasian. My argument isn’t that Mount Greenwood is “not so bad,” it’s that my neck of the woods is also bad, but we get to ignore our own issues of race, exclusionism and segregation because there’s someone worse within the same municipal border.

The waitress was a sweetheart. The chairs were comfy. I like Steppenwolf. If not for the constant coward’s call to back any badge in sight and not stop backing until the libs have been owned, I could have stayed for another. Instead I left, heading back north to what I didn’t want to admit was more of the same.

Like the drunk who keeps a bigger mess of a friend in tow, we in liberal, white Chicago should thank and praise a neighborhood that makes us look better without us having to do a damn thing.

A wonderful Mount Greenwood comic book shop

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You are currently reading #948: A Drink at Hinky Dink’s by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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