I'm finding the recent furor over Lounge Ax a bit confusing. I live in an apartment that is one of the closest residential dwellings to Lounge Ax. My back window is about 75 feet from their back door. I've lived here for the past two years and in all that time I have never heard noise from Lounge Ax inside my apartment. Not even once. Sure, there have been lots of times that I heard loud music and assumed it was coming from Lounge Ax, but with all the controversies, I've made it my business to go outside and track down the source of every note of rock music that makes it inside my place. In each and every case, the offender was not Lounge Ax. Usually it was an overly loud stereo or band playing at a party in one of the houses along Fullerton or Montana Street.
I've also been making an informal study of the screaming drunks that roam the alley behind Lincoln Avenue. Peeking at these carousers through my blinds typically reveals not the tattooed, earringed, bad-hair-day look of the wanna-be hipsters I'd expect to be hanging out at Lounge Ax, but instead bunches of polo-shirted, early-twentysomething proto yuppies from places like the Gin Mill and BW-3, two establishments that pump out more noise on a Friday night than Lounge Ax does all week.
The only problem I've ever had with Lounge Ax relates to that perpetual bane of all north-siders unlucky enough to own a car--parking. Lounge Ax treats the alley behind Lincoln as their own personal parking lot. Bands unloading instruments are one thing. It's a commercial alley and anybody living there has to expect that the businesses on Lincoln are going to use it as a loading zone. But half the time the bands leave their cars and vans parked there for the whole show. Some of these cars even sport Lounge Ax signs prominently displayed on their dashboard as if to ward off tickets. Hell, for all I know Lounge Ax does have a deal with the police not to give them tickets. Even that wouldn't be so bad except that often these vans are completely blocking the alley, or even worse, are parked in my parking spot! I only mention this because it makes me wonder if a parking dispute isn't the real reason some of the neighbors want to shut Lounge Ax down. Their parking habits almost make me want to file a complaint with the city sometimes, and I'm a pretty tolerant fellow.
Whatever the status of the permits Lounge Ax technically needs to do business, the city should allow them to remain open. It is one of the few remaining bastions of nonyuppiedom left in Lincoln Park and it would be a shame to see them forced to close or relocate. Lounge Ax's financial troubles are one thing, but complaints from the neighbors are something else. Why anyone is complaining about noise or rowdy drunks coming from Lounge Ax is beyond me, but it's clear they haven't taken the time to check out where the real source of their annoyances is. And anyway, folks, this is the city, and you live right off one of the north side's busiest commercial streets. If you can't handle a little noise, move to the suburbs. And please do it fast--Naperville needs you.
Aaron M. Renn