Outside, a day typical of early June in Chicago—windy, muggy, rainy, then sunny. The type of erratically changeable personality Chicagoans have come to expect from their weather and their city. But inside the Gold Star Bar in Wicker Park, nothing much changes—it always feels like night, as soft lights mount the two-toned walls, exposing the peeling paint and Christmas lights adorn the top of a heavy wooden bar year round. Local hipster characters, scenery themselves, dot the ledge and surrounding tables, downing beer and playing pool in hole-ridden cotton t-shirts and ripped jeans. Behind the bar tonight, Ian, who has worked at Gold Star for the past fourteen years (and fits the bill of a bona fide local), fills metal buckets of ice with bottles of PBR in preparation for tonight’s event—a celebration for the release of the 2008 edition of “Not for Tourists Guide to Chicago.”
Not For Tourists—the growing series of entertainment, nightlife and transportation guides to major cities, including Boston, LA, New York and, of course, Chicago—has a simple philosophy, that people need to effectively engage in the cities in which they live and to which they travel. People need a working knowledge of their city’s public transportation systems, government buildings, shops, restaurants, liquor stores and ATMs. But what really sets the New York-based company apart from any other Fodor’s or Lonely Planet, is that it is the only guide book that is written entirely by locals. Every writer is required to be a resident of the city they write about. “It’s more like a local’s reference guide and not so much a travel guide,” says Aaron, who works with NFT. “I think anybody can use them.”
As the party gets underway, the bar is filled with all walks. Mohawked Pilseners mingle with manicured Gold Coast girls, while a Gap-clad prep shares a laugh with a large, bearded man in a loud Hawaiian shirt. The common draw? The promise of free drinks, and more importantly, a copy of the 2008 guide.
“Oh my God,” a girl shrieks above the music after she receives her book. “I loved my  guide,” she says clutching the new copy to her chest. “I am totally addicted!” (Reilly Nelson)