Come summertime, Chicagoans tend to drift eastward toward the lake for beach BBQs and surreptitious drinking. I, meanwhile, don’t trust any natural body of water so close to a giant, disgusting major city, and so I prefer to immerse myself in the bright blue, heavily chlorinated waters of a Chicago public pool. Now, the words “Chicago public pool” sound like they would make Donald Trump wake up in the night in a cold sweat. And apparently they do the same for my fellow Chicagoans as well, because even the most popular pools are never all that crowded. And that’s fine—a bonus, even. I have by no means been to all of them, and my favorites are two old standbys: the Holstein Park pool, with its large, actually deep deep end, and the Humboldt Park public pool, which has a goddamn waterslide. They’re free, they’re clean, and the water’s always nice. Smell that? That’s chlorine and infrastructure. Breathe it in.
There are people who drink varietals of wine based on the outside temperature levels: deep cabernets and malbecs in the winter months, then the wine color gets lighter as the temperature rises. I happen to be one of those people—I could never drink pinot noir in August—but my favorite summer beverage is the lightest of them all. Vinho verde comes to us from Portugal, and is a light, fizzy white wine that’s all-out perfect for the summer months. It even has a lower-alcohol content—so it’s not as intense as a straight-up chardonnay—with an effervescence that makes you feel festive just by pouring it into a glass. So use a champagne flute, why not: It’s like drinking champagne at domestic beer prices. My favorite, Gazela, has a citrusy flavor that sauvignon blanc fans will find familiar. That one retails for under $10, but you can even pick up Espiral at Trader Joe’s for as little as $5. This fabulous drink will be as unfashionable as white pants as soon as Labor Day hits, so enjoy it while you can.
Years ago, my brother, my cousin, and their friends happened upon a YouTube video starring the Zooperstars, a touring troupe of performers in inflatable animal costumes who entertain between innings, during intermissions, and at halftimes in athletic venues across the country. The act is objectively corny—and they were told so, to their squishy faces, multiple times in their run on America’s Got Talent. But anything that enrages Piers Morgan gets a pass in my book, as does the dad-joke-level wordplay that goes into the characters’ names: Clammy Sosa, Snail Earnhardt Jr., Nomar Garciaparrot, and so on. Having now seen the Zooperstars in person, during a recent match-up between the Frontier League’s Schaumburg Boomers and Washington Wild Things, I can confirm they’re corny as hell, but definitely worth the price of admission to a minor-league baseball game. Please believe me when I tell you that seeing Clammy Sosa eat a guy (then barf up his clothes, then barf up the guy) is going to be one of the highlights of my summer. And you don’t have to take my word for it: You can also go by the genuine shrieks of delight that emitted from my entire party whenever the Zooperstars hit the field. Just look at our faces in this snapshot with the Zooperstars’ bird in the press squawks, Harry Canary. Holy caw! (Please accept this write-up as a tacit Staff Pick for the following: minor-league baseball in Midwestern suburbs, lax public-transit restrictions on alcohol consumption, and hating the stinking guts of sanctimonious television personalities who can’t stop tweeting about all the feet they want to fuck.)