I hate to admit that I've developed a bit of an interest in a television show that is, besides "Hoarders", which not only serves as casual lessons on how to do cognitive-behavioral therapy, but also functions as a back-up plan in case my father continues to collect antique blowtorches (He's at 200+). I started watching "Boardwalk Empire" while enjoying cable TV during a house sitting gig, primarily because the owner of said house had set some sort of recording device and I was unable to change the channel. The series has become increasingly popular from the formulaic standpoint of soap opera plot lines that appeal to both genders, the exquisite costumes, politically incorrect dialogue, a sprinkling of authentic slang, and the lionization of nostalgia that seems to equal hit TV show. Oh, and there also appears to be a contractual obligation to show off Paz de la Huerta's juggies and honey badger every episode. Jus'sayin'.
The show begins on the night of January 15th, 1920 wherein Prohibition will go into effect at Midnight, and most residents of Atlantic City are engaged in a celebratory mourning of their exiled friend Alcohol. This includes people running around the boardwalk with baby carriages filled with bottles of booze, and a bash in which the viewer is introduced to the city's Treasurer and unspoken ruler of Atlantic City, Nucky Thompson, played by an actor who certainly deserves his dues, Steve Buscemi. The show is visually lovely and historically apt, however it is a little hard to drink the Kool-Aid in considering Buscemi a sex symbol...trust me once you see him humping away on de la Huerta the first thought is sure to be, "That's the dude from Trees Lounge" not a aural cue for Blondie from "American Gigolo".
The show, as stated previously, deals directly with the effects that Prohibition have on Atlantic City, and consequently, Nucky's rise in both political and gangland power over the its residents. Certain elements of side plot lines explore the birth and popularity of the KKK, the haunting aftermath of WWI veterans coming home physically and psychologically broken, issues of hidden homosexuality, and a turning point in history regarding women's political power in the form of the 19th Amendment as well. The viewer experiences a deja vu, in many respects, of a past world that is not unlike our own current age, in which xenophobic political parties vie for power, returning soldiers articulate a growing concern for PTSD, and women stand idle while their rights are whittled away by an unchanging amount of white dudes still in power. 1920 vs. 2010? Well, we have teenage fashion bloggers.Repeal Day Celebration 1933, Chicago
Fashions of 1933 (L) and vintage black velvet dress with lace bird detail (R)
To celebrate Repeal Day my guy took me out to Encore Lounge, which shoulders the Hotel Allegro (then called the Bismarck) the site of the first legal beer tapped in Chicago! The five course German-themed meal included Bavarian Pretzels with Dusseldorf Mustard, German Potato Salad, German Lentil Stew, Breaded Pork Chop with vegetables, and a lovely German Chocolate Cake. All during Hanukkah, I know! Each of the courses was paired with a special beer including one made specifically for the celebration entitled, "The Bismarck", which was a Munich Dunkel Rye. Don't ask me what that means. I don't drink beer. Instead I got Micky Finned by some delightful martinis and Beef Tenderloin mini sandwiches.
Close-up of vintage pearl clutch
The entire experience was aces, and I highly recommend Encore Lounge for an ingenious balance between the modern and retro without the pretense of other downtown establishments. My guy and I walked towards the train swearing that we could make this place a haunt of ours, and I hear the manager is a real dapper fella! To repeal day, to a fancy new show on the telly, and to the fashions of a bygone era...