Jeffry Stanton, director of Hot ‘n’ Throbbing at Interrobang Theatre Project, gets all Don Draper for:

Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf On a recent hunt for a funky, comfy boîte for after-dinner cocktails to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday, we found ourselves at the newly opened Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf in River North, by restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff. The expansive restaurant transports you to another time with Prohibition-era red leather booths, dark wood, and a long zinc-topped bar, but the downstairs lounge is magical. It’s intimate, low-ceilinged, dark—nearly pitch-black, with faces in leather banquettes lit only by candlelight and mounted animal heads peering down ironically on steaks and giant icy shrimp cocktails. The vintage cocktail menu would certainly make Al Capone as happy as the carefully crafted Lillet Rose martinis made us. With its swank speakeasy vibe, you could imagine clandestine affairs being had and top-secret deals being made, or perhaps that’s just my overactive imagination. In any case, I can’t wait to return to Bavette’s to try dinner in the dark.

Dmitry Samarov, painter and writer, most recently of Hack: Stories From a Chicago Cab, is rereading:

JR “—Money? . . .” is the first word of William Gaddis’s 1975 novel JR.

I first read it about 15 years ago, not knowing much about the inner workings of our financial system. I picked it up again earlier this year and it’s still the marvel I remembered it to be. Through a pitch-perfect re-creation of the cadence and rhythm of everyday American speech and not much else, Gaddis takes us into the shell games and long cons that buttress the colossal stock market edifice that governs our world. We see it all through the eyes of his ten-year-old hero and it becomes clear how easy it is to just move a few numbers here or there without feeling any responsibility for how our acting out of pure self-interest might impact the lives of others. Read it now and you’ll see how nearly 40 years later very little has changed.

Credit: TIA

Shannon Favia, painter whose work is on display at Uncommon Ground, stops and smells the roses with:

The puppet bike The puppet bike in Andersonville, usually at Clark and Berwyn, is worth heading for, especially in this beautiful fall weather. It’s such a simple concept and is just so fun! The nostalgic music that blasts from the puppet bike along with the puppets’ dance routines are sure to put a smile on your face. I’ve been taking my son since he was three. He’s now five, and still loves it. My mom was in town last month and saw the puppet bike for the first time. Her reaction was the same as when my son saw it for the first time: she got a big smile on her face and started to dance. In our technological world it’s totally refreshing to stop and be filled with joy by something as simple as puppets performing to some great old music.