Saturday, December 16, 2017

No more rock ‘n’ roll McDonalds? I think Chicago will overcome the loss

Chicago is going to lose something come year’s end that some people seem to regard as a semi-serious tourist attraction. Yet I can’t help but regard the news with nothing more than a yawn.
Soon to be history. But is it really a loss?
I’m referring to the rock ‘n’ roll McDonalds. As in the McDonalds franchise at Clark and Ontario Streets in the River North section of Chicago just north of the Chicago River.

I’M TALKING ABOUT a McDonalds that serves Big Macs and the rest of the junk food menu that one can find at any other McDonalds across the country, or in many parts of the world.

But what made this one different, and is the reason there are people who thought it important to stop off at the place while visiting Chicago, is the wide assortment of rock music memorabilia that was on display – along with other elements of our pop culture such as “pet rocks” (remember that fad), early cellular telephones the size of a brick and 8-track tape players.

Which I’m sure kids who think the world’s content is meant to be downloaded look upon as an aberration, and evidence that their grandparents consumed some seriously-strong illicit substances when they were young.

That particular McDonalds is going to be closed to the public as of Dec. 30 to undergo a significant remodeling as McDonalds turns the place into what they see as their restaurant of the future.
No more Beatles figures under glass

MORE LUXURIOUS SEATING. Kiosks that will allow people to place their own orders rather than talk to some senior citizen who’s supplementing their retirement income with the kind of job they thought they had left behind some five decades ago in life.

But no more of the rock ‘n’ roll décor. For now, the owner of the items plans to put the whole collection in storage. Which I suppose is a step up from the notion that it all belongs in a garbage dumpster somewhere.

In short, this McDonalds will become just a McDonalds – a place to stop off for a fast-food burger or McNuggets (or one of their salads, if you want to fool yourself into thinking fast food can be a nutritious meal). Nothing more to make it an “experience” more thrilling than any that Jimi Hendrix and his band ever gave to their fans.
More pseudo-nostalgia from Chicago's past

Yes, I realize some people who visited Chicago felt compelled to stop there. Perhaps they think there was something about a Quarter Pounder eaten there (other than the higher-than-typical prices charged there, which McDonalds justified on the grounds that it was expensive to maintain such a décor.

BUT I’LL BE honest. I never got the concept.

The rock ‘n’ roll McDonalds was remodeled in 2005, and I honestly have to admit I have yet to see it. I’ve never been there. Since I don’t anticipate the need to go to that particular McDonalds site before the end of December, it appears I’ll never see it.

There has been a rock ‘n’ roll McDonalds since 1983 (the year I graduated high school and was likely foolish enough to think something like this could be "cool"), and I think I once went to it. Seriously, all the displays just struck me as being tacky, and the Quarter Pounder I likely had there wasn’t any different from a McDonalds burger I’ve ever had anywhere.
Was city's namesake band Chicago's best, ...

For those individuals who think they saw something unique, I’d wonder if they also felt compelled to visit the Hard Rock café that used to be a few blocks away. Or the Ed Debevic’s restaurant that gave us a pseudo-50’s era diner experience.

ALMOST AS THOUGH actor Henry Winkler’s “Fonzie” character would come riding up on his motorcycle and tell you to “Sit on it” if you happened to annoy him that day.

Perhaps I’m overly cynical. I ultimately don’t think a McDonalds experience is unique. It’s the ultimate generic experience of Planet Earth. I’m not convinced the new futuristic McDonalds is going to be much better than the experience I’d get if I went to the McDonalds located about a mile from my current humble abode.
... or were Buckinghams better?

Now if you really wanted a dining experience that also fed off pop music, you should have went to the one-time Demon Dogs stand located by the DePaul University campus underneath the Fullerton Avenue “el” train platform. It was run by the one-time managers of the old rock band Chicago, and I always thought the location was appropo considering the band that gave us "25, or 6 to 4" was originally named for the Chicago Transit Authority..

Album covers, music awards and other memorabilia used to adorn the walls and could be enjoyed while munching on a ketchup-less hot dog. It’s certainly more intriguing than all the Elvis stuff that a true fan would rather travel to Graceland to see.


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