The fictional bomb didn’t get Cal’s, but real estate reality will

September 21, 2012

Despite his attorney’s talk of entrapment and claim that “This case stinks,” a suburban teen accused of trying to blow up a Loop bar was ordered on Thursday to be held without the possibility of release on bail pending trial on charges that could bring life imprisonment.

Today, alleged Hillside jihadist Adel Daoud turned 19.

I’m way late in commenting on the absurdity of Daoud choosing Cal’s—arguably more friendly to revolutionary sentiments than any other rock club in Chicago—as the perfect target to strike a blow against the West. According to the FBI, the would-be terrorist chose the place as epitomizing “the evilest people” and biggest enemies of Islam because “it’s a bar, it’s a liquor store, it’s a concert—all in one bundle.”

And here I always thought it was just a lovably grungy dive beloved of messenger bikers by day and punk-rockers by night. In fact, it long has been one of my own punk-rock band’s absolute favorite places to play in town, despite the sketchy sound, the ridiculously cramped space and the fact that you basically just set up on the floor and let it rip.

Alas, my band mates and I had resigned ourselves to the sad fact that our last gig at Cal’s in late July probably would be our last there ever. Unreported in the flood of media coverage that has descended on the venue at the corner of Wells and Van Buren after its ace owner Mike Feirstein revealed to The Sun-Times that his was the unnamed target bar is the heartbreaking news that the place is up for sale.

When we chatted a few months ago, Fierstein confirmed that yes, that “For Sale” sign on the side of the building is serious, and Cal’s probably would be history sooner rather than later. He says he plans to open a new place and carry on the hard-rocking, hard-drinking traditions he’s fostered for the last decade and a half, but he didn’t want to tip his hand just yet on exactly how, when and where.

Meanwhile, real estate listings updated 10 days ago, before the car bomb that wasn’t, offer the 2,250-square-foot space for a cool $1.5 million—ample testimony to the rampant gentrification of the surrounding area, even in this economy. (Witness the 750-unit luxury condo building just across the street.)

The question now: Does being singled out as the epicenter of evil makes Cal’s worth more or less?