Talk of The Town: July 2022


River City, Iowa, July 1912: It’s the fictional setting for The Music Man, the 1957 Tony-winning Broadway hit and 1962 Oscar-nominated film starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. Let’s follow Harold Hill, a traveling con man, as he arrives in town hoping to swindle the townsfolk with one of his schemes—only to encounter the skeptical librarian, Marian Paroo. Marching bands, ice cream socials, dangerous pool halls, and the perils of Balzac and Chaucer are all part of the fun.


In one of the show’s rousing numbers, Harold Hill rails against River City’s new pool table and the trouble it might bring to the town’s youth – hoping to convince residents they need the wholesome influence of a town band. Of course, he’ll be the one to sell them uniforms and instruments – skipping town with their money. And while River City only has one billiard & pool hall, Chicago offers lots of fun places where you can play a game or two.

Surge Coffee Bar & Billiards | 3241 W. Montrose Ave, Chicago: With another location in Logan Square, you’ll find a full-service café by day, a curated cocktail and food menu in the evening—and more than a dozen Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables.

Piccolo Lounge Pool Hall & Bar | 2610 W. Peterson Ave, Chicago: This spacious, premium pool hall offers a full bar with creative drink specials and a complete dining menu including sandwiches, salads, paninis, pastas, pizzas and complete entrees from kabobs to grilled salmon.

Whiskey River Bar & Grill | 1850 Waukegan Rd, Glenview: Enjoy hearty pub fare, live music on the weekends, and FREE pool on Wednesday nights!

Cody’s Public House | 1658 W. Barry Ave, Chicago: This popular, dog-friendly Lakeview spot features 16 beers on tap, a wine list, darts, plenty of big screen TVs, and of course a pool table.

G-Cue Billiards | 157 N. Morgan St, Chicago: Family owned since 2004, this classic 2-story West Loop pool hall has an extensive beer and cocktail list enhanced by a tempting menu of appetizers, wraps and sandwiches.


When Harold Hill tries to elicit more information about Marian the Librarian, with whom he is now infatuated, a few of the townsfolk are only too happy to gossip about her: Namely, that Marian has been known to advocate those “dirty” books—by Chaucer, Rabelais and Balzac! Intrigued? Titillated? Kick back this summer and peruse one of their classics for yourself!

The Canterbury Tales: Written in Middle English verse, Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th-century masterpiece follows a group of pilgrims as they journey to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury. It’s a story comprised of stories—as each traveler takes their turn as storyteller, with a banquet promised for the best tale told. Filled with sexual innuendo, swearing and perceived criticism of the church, it was widely censored upon its first publication and has been banned several times here in the U.S.

Gargantua and Pantagruel: François Rabelais was a French Renaissance writer, physician and satirist—lauded as one of the most influential figures in the history of modern European writing. Bitingly smart and bawdy, his 5-novel work about two giants, Gargantua and his son Pantagruel, is a satirical yet rigorous examination of 16th-century life.

Le Père Goriot: Often translated as Father Goriot, this 1835 novel by Honoré de Balzac’s is set in post-revolutionary Paris and filled with complex, beautifully developed characters. It follows the intertwined lives of residents in an old boarding house including Goriot, an older man who has sacrificed all for his daughters, and Eugène de Rastignac, a penniless young man eager to seek his fortune in the capital.


“The Music Man” reaches its climax when the townsfolk, upon learning that Harold Hill is a con man, confront him at the 4th of July Ice Cream Social. But Marian defends him, reminding everyone of the joy and anticipation that Harold has brought with his plans for a town band. Fortunately, ice cream rarely involves a confrontation. In fact, here are some places that will make your next ice cream social purely sociable!

  1. C&W Market and Ice Cream Parlor 1901 Church St, Evanston: Pick up your grocery essentials at this community-minded family-owned shop and pause to enjoy some hand-dipped, home-made ice cream. They can even bring their unique ice cream and crave bar to your next event or gathering.
  2. Pretty Cool 2353 N California Ave & 709 W Belden Ave, Chicago: Founded by Chicago culinary legends Dana Cree and Michael Ciapciak, both shops offer unique frozen novelties—from artisan ice cream bars and ice pops to specialty ice cream sandwiches and vegan pops.
  3. Taiyaki 2468 N Clark St, Chicago: Taiyaki is a Japanese dessert with roots in the Edo Period. Choose a filling (like classic red bean or Nutella) for your traditional fish-shaped cone. Then pick your soft-serve ice cream flavor and a topping like chocolate, caramel or rainbow mochi.
  4. Lickity Split 6056 N Broadway Ave & 7000 N Western Ave, Chicago: Enjoy house-made frozen custard treats along with gourmet chocolates, baked goods, a huge assortment of retro candy, and an espresso bar featuring Chicago’s own Metropolis Coffee.

Related Posts