A beloved cult figure in 1990s New York City, Timothy "Speed" Levitch became locally famous for his rhapsodical, philosophical, and downright eccentric (and yes, speedy) lectures as a bus tour guide. His exceptional worldview and heartfelt, often psychedelic stream-of-consciousness performances were captured as the subject of director Bennett Miller's 1998 documentary 'The Cruise.' Levitch is back on camera, this time on the Hulu original series 'Up To Speed,' in which he crosses the United States – everywhere from San Francisco to Kansas to Virginia – in search of quirky places with cool backstories.
He also likes good beer, which is why we asked him for a list of the oddest and most history-filled bars in America. When speaking with a genius tour guide, so it goes. From the birthplace of the Bloody Mary to a ramshackle speakeasy, these bars are sure to whet your curiosity, if not your thirst for a strong stout. Launch Gallery >>
The Hideout (Chicago)
According to The Hideout's autobiographical account, the bar is the "last hold out of the rebel club," where "every night for over a decade, punk rock, alt-country, indie rock, post-rock whatever, break out their instruments and play like it is the last night on earth." That's a hell of a boast, but a visit here removes any doubt. The original structure was a shack built as part of a scattershot shantytown in the late 19th century. "It's commonly known as the building that was built in two days and that's lasted a 100 years," Speed says. It failed to fall down, and by the Prohibition era, the floor was filled with number running, bootlegging, and Sicilians. Today it still has the feel of a locals' bar, but one with a big enough heart to welcome right-minded visitors. Nothing is too wild, too outrageous, or too soulful for the old place, and it's been host to everything from bar mitzvahs to theater performances. No matter the night, though, it's sure to be memorable – that is, if you can find it. There's no sign out front, but we hear it's around 1354 West Wabansia Street. [The Hideout; Chicago, IL, 773-227-4433]