Let’s face it, only a few of us have relationships that call for a complete stranger installing a plaque at the site where we had our first kiss a la Barack and Michelle’s monument at 53rd and Dorchester, the former site of a Baskin-Robbins that they reportedly visited on their first date. But plenty of us can point directly to venues, restaurants, and perhaps even neighborhoods that are forever tainted in our minds by memories of love gone very wrong. Here are four Chicago spots that unfortunately resulted in heartbreak.
The Big Show
Musicians are creative, emotional creatures, and what better way to express their experience than delivering performances to the public infused with a spectrum of feelings: good, bad, and vengeful. The Replacements chose to give the audience the real deal on July 4, 1991, during their legendary “breakup” show in Grant Park during the Taste of Chicago. It was the last show of what was already announced as the Replacements’ final tour, in the last years of a band that hadn’t been getting along for a while. Shouting and arguing onstage during the last half of the show ended with the entire band handing over their instruments to roadies and walking off stage during the final number.
Swiping left in Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo’s last male lion resident, Sahar, unfortunately passed away last September, but he was a popular attraction during his stay in Chicago. Sahar was originally brought to Lincoln Park from the Bronx Zoo in 2012 to serve in part as a younger male companion to the zoo’s then 16-year-old lioness Myra. After Myra died in 2014, Sahar needed a friend and Lincoln Park Zoo brought two two-year-old female lions from Oregon, Zalika and Kamali, to attempt socialization. Sahar, whether still missing Myra or just being a stubborn male, wasn’t having it. As the Chicago Tribune reported in 2015, “The clever boy plopped down right in front of the doorway where the new cats . . . would ideally enter the outdoor exhibit and start engaging with him. But he is foiling the plan, blocking their potential path while enjoying the shade and happily flicking his tail.”
Walking through Wicker Park
Nelson Algren’s biographers know for sure that he lived at 1958 W. Evergreen for most of the 1950s, but we’re not sure exactly where he might have been when he received a letter from writer Simone de Beauvoir, putting an end to their deepening long-distance affair. It’s readable in Hell Hath No Fury, an anthology of women’s letters edited by Anna Holmes. Algren had grown weary of the distance between them and acted distant during de Beauvoir’s visit, which resulted in her painful decision to end the romance. She writes with heartbreaking honesty, “As for me, it is baffling to say so and I feel ashamed, but it is the only true truth: I just love as much as I did when I landed into your disappointed arms, that means with my whole self and all my dirty heart; I cannot do less.”
The Wiener’s Circle
Dawn doesn’t want me to tell you her real name, but I was present for this incident (roughly 20 years ago) and can concur: breaking up with someone sometimes takes a village. We’ll call Dawn’s ex-boyfriend Rahm. Rahm was a cad from the get-go, and insisted that Dawn pay for most of their outings as well as wear only outfits that he had chosen. For the record, Rahm was not a professional stylist. When Dawn finally found her self-esteem, she decided to break up with Rahm at the Wiener’s Circle, the infamous hot dog stand at Wrightwood and Clark. Dawn insisted upon doing this at 7 PM on a Friday so we could all get food afterward and miss the loudmouth crowd, but a small group of Chads overheard her telling Rahm that she was done. A debate over Dawn’s worthiness as a girlfriend was ignited, resulting in one of the employees of the restaurant coming out to the picnic benches and shouting at everyone, “She dumped your white ass; get the fuck out!” v