Thursday, December 24, 2009

Everytime I See You Falling, I Get Down On My Knees And Pray

This post covers the events (well, MOST of the events) of 12/5/09.

We begin the night at Rockwood Place, #173, the second time we've been to this address. Previously this year it was known as The Central, sister bar to The Grand Central. For reason unknown to me it has changed names (possibly owners? I don't know. I also don't care.), so we're required to visit it again. We're joined by Tim/Peter/Leroy/Chuck (again, that's just one person). Rockwood Place is very loud. Very Loud. There are a couple of guys watching some UFC or MMA fight at the end of the bar. It's somewhat crowded for being early in the evening, we're here this early so we can catch the Blackhawks game. Also, if I haven't mentioned it already or your intuition hasn't picked up on it, my feelings about this bar are that it's terrible. In the "pros" column, though, the waitresses are, um...busty, and they have Brooklyn Lager on tap.

We debate heading to another bar a few times, but the game is on and it's interesting, enough so to overpower the awful music they're blasting (which is just a playlist on repeat. Stick around here for longer than 40 minutes and you'll hear the same songs again). While hearing David Guetta's "Sexy Bitch" turned up to 11, Tim/Peter/Leroy/Chuck has the line of the night, possibly the line of the year. "I'm tryin to find the words to describe this bar without being disrespectfulllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!" It applies to so many places we've been this year.

Our first 2 orders of the Brooklyn Lager arrive in pint glasses, my third one comes in one of those cheap plastic party cups. Thinking I've been ripped off, I pour the glass into the pint glass I still have because our waitress hasn't taken it away. To all of our amazement we discover it's exactly 1 pint big (i'm sure there's a specific measurement for this, I'm not bothering to look it up. It's 10:15 on xmas eve and I'm trying to spit this entry out so I can go to bed and then fly to Colorado). Again, we're all floored by this discovery. Revelations aren't just in the Bible, folks.

The Blackhawks game is tied through 3 periods, so we decide the lull in the action is our chance to head north on Clark to our next stop, Bernie's, #174. We close out our tab, power walk to Bernie's and discover the game is over. WTF?! The doorman informs us the b'hawks scored like 40 seconds into OT. Nice job Hawks! Bernie's is a good place, at least tonight. It's proximity to Wrigley leaves me unable to fully evaluate it without experiencing the bar during a Cubs game. We have 3 Harpoon IPAs, then continue the crawl.

Continuing our trend, we head north. Eickhoff has now joined us and we're at Rockit, #175 (not the Rockit you're thinking of, they've opened another outpost in the Wrigley neighborhood). I have nothing to write about Rockit, we were in and out as quickly as we could down a beer and hit the bathroom.

North again, this time to the Full Shillling, #176. Morris has now joined us. We order a few drinks and our waitress can't figure out if our total is $14 or $16. She charges us $14, then brings $4 in change back to our table, having determined it was $16 instead. Morris, while she is standing there, loudly wonders "what kind of tip do you give to a liar?"

Last stop of the night, somewhere we've been before, SmartBar. Our travelling tour manager of a friend Craig is in town for the Holidays and we're meeting him there to catch Peter Hook (formerly of New Order. see post title) dj. Last time I saw Peter Hook dj was for the Metro 25th Anniversary Party, where I'm pretty sure I yelled at him about one of his song selections and Joe Shanahan wondered how Rick and I got on the guestlist. Later that night I left at the same time as former Chicago Poet Laureate Thax Douglas and lied to him about what neighborhood I lived in so I wouldn't have to walk the same direction as him. Sorry Thax. Hope you're living it up in your new hometown of Austin, TX.

Anyway, we've all been drinking for a while so our presence on the dance floor is likely a mix of amusing and annoying to other people in attendance. Good night, good job to everyone involved.

You Dissolve, It's Just Another Way You Exist

EBONY's favorite albums from 2009 (on two separate lists).

Kyle's -
30. Karen O & The Kids - Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack
29. m. ward - Hold Time
28. Howling Bells - Radio Wars
27. Antony & The Jonstons - The Crying Light
26. Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer
25. Datarock - Red
24. Heartless Bastards - The Mountain
23. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
22. Bertie Blackman - Secrets and Lies
21. The Field - Yesterday & Today
20. The Dream - Love vs Money
19. Weezer - Raditude
18. Girls - Album
17. The Big Pink - A Brief History of Love
16. Dent May - The Good Feeling Music of Dent May
15. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
14. Converge - Axe to Fall
13. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
12. Annie - Don't Stop
11. AC Newman - Get Guilty
10. The Antlers - Hospice
9. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - s/t
8. The Very Best - Warm Heart of Africa
7. Future of the Left - Travels With Myself and Another
6. We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
4. The Thermals - Now We Can See
3. Music Go Music - Expressions
2. Generationals - Con Law
1. Handsome Furs - Face Control

In the past I've made lists as long as 50 albums, but...you know, going to like 200 bars this year kinda cut into my music listening time.

Rick's -
15) 'Spirit of Apollo' by N.A.S.A.
14) 'Travels With Myself and Another' by Future of the Left
13) 'Life of Leisure' by Washed Out
12) 'Julian Plenti is Skyscraper' by Julian Plenti
11) 'Fist of God' by MSTRKRFT
10) 'Where Did All My People Go' by The Prairie Cartel
9) 'No Magical' by Worlds Greatest Ghosts
8) 'Beast Rest Fourth Mouth' by Bear in Heaven
7) 'The Love of No Dance' by Jump Clubb
6) 'Gold Country' by Chuck Ragan
5) 'Now We Can See' by The Thermals
4) 'Love Comes Close' by Cold Cave
3) 'Mama, I'm Swollen' by Cursive
2) 'These Four Walls' by We Were Promised Jetpacks
1) 'Exploding Head' by A Place To Bury Strangers

Final bar recaps up pretty soon...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Following the Herd, Down to Greece

Okay, first we’ll start with my trip to 400 W Superior to close out the final chapter of “the incident”. I’m at the Starbucks on Franklin & Chicago, killing time before my 2:30 hearing, enjoying a hot chocolate and pages 115-135 of David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries. There’s a tap on my foot, and I look up to see my friend Paul. “Hey Kyle, what are you doing down here today? No work?” I pause, thinking of how to reply, then just say, “yeah, remember reading about Rick and I’s tickets? I’m dealing with that today.” We exchange hearty laughter.
I ended up with the same plea deal as Rick. There were a handful of others also scheduled at the same time, 3 of them with the same citation as me. One of those 3 was a girl. That was suspect. I paid my fine, now it’s over and done with, like the Proclaimers song.
So, yes, I’d like to point out that I fully understand the complete hypocrisy of this situation. I’ve spent many words on this blog this year deriding the inhabitants and drunken revelers of Wrigleyville. I do recognize that my moral high ground is now below sea level. It doesn’t really matter what walk of life you’re from, the phrase “nothing good happens after midnight” applies to everyone. Just ask Tiger. (Also, I don’t fully subscribe to that, there are good things that happen after midnight. It’s more of an equation. The further past midnight you go the more likely you are to experience negativity.)

Onto bar recapping, this covering the evening of 11/28.
Bridget McNeills, #165 is an Irish-named bar that is definitely the most isolated of all the bars within a mile of where we live. How is that possible, you ask? Good thing you asked, I’ll tell you. It’s at Belmont and Lakeshore (err, Sheridan). It’s a good 3-4 blocks from anything else, and surrounded pretty much by high-rise condo buildings, and actually located on the first floor of one of those buildings. So you’d think it’d be crowded, being an oasis in the liquor desert. You’d think that. They do have good nightly food specials on the menu, but I can’t remember what any of them were. Rick thought if he lived in the building it’d be hard for him to avoid having dinner at the bar 3 nights a week. Bud Drinks are on special for $2.50! So we order a couple of New Belgium 2-Belows. I drop some money in the jukebox, playing a few tracks off the criminally fantastic INXS KICK album. Annie joins us, Selfy & Ericka join us, along with her friend Laura. The night is young. Conversation turns to Freakonomics, Super Freakonomics, and In Defense of Food.

We move on, down Belmont, turning North on Broadway, and picking up an aimlessly wandering Morris along the way. The competition for 3rd-6th in the Friends Rankings is beginning to heat up. We arrive at Joe’s on Broadway, #166. This is absolutely 100% a dive bar. The entrance is a screen door that slams shut. A couple of Point Pale Ales are $7. Selfy and Morris claim that they saw The Big Hurt at the Landmark Grill on Halsted a few days earlier. We decide had we visited this bar a few years ago it would’ve been completely filled with smoke. The slamming of the screen door announces Eickhoff's arrival. Everyone seems to have at least one story about running from the police. All of these took place during adolescence.

Again, we travel. F. O’Mahoney’s, #167 starts with too many letters. It’s also known as Finley Mahony’s, so there’s some sort of identity crisis going on here. It’s another Irish bar, also an Ohio St bar. Joe and Casey arrive. Selfy points out that “we’ve got a good group crawlin’ tonight.”
Morris & the bartender have this exchange:
"Are your jager bombs like this |----| or like this |------------------|?" (insinuating size with his thumb and forefinger)
"Like this |----|, i don't want to clean up your puke."

Selfy, Joe and I had all gone roughly 3-4 weeks without shaving. Reasons for growing, or attempting to grow, beards:
Selfy - raising money for prostate cancer
Joe - as a fashion statement
Kyle - because i'm lazy

We move on, time for our whirlwind trip through what remains on our list of Boystown. We head across the street to Charlie’s, #168 where the doorman stops us before entering. “Have you guys ever been here before?” Nope. “Here’s the deal, if you disrupt the dance floor, you WILL be kicked out.” Umm, okay.
Upon entering, we see what he means. Charlie's, several nights a week, is a country line-dancing bar. The dance floor is full with nearly 20 couples, all men. They’re doing line dances, circle dances, things I don’t know what to call because I’m clearly not up to speed on my country dance bar terminology. Anyway, the ENTIRE dance floor moves in complete unison. To say this is a little intimidating to watch is an understatement. There are a lot of men wearing cowboy hats, including the bartenders. I talk to one of them, and explain the purpose of the EmptyBlogOfNothing, “we’re two straight Sox fans visiting every bar in Wrigleyville and Boystown.” He thinks it’s fantastic, is glad we’ve stopped in, and pours us each a shot. For the year, we’re working on a 60-70% success rate of explaining what we’re doing to bartenders and ending up with a free shot.
A few more of Ericka’s friends show up, so our crowd for the evening has swelled to 10+. It’s beginning to get late, the bars are getting more crowded.

Again, moving on. We next travel to North End, #169. This is a karaoke bar. It’s another gay bar. I decide to repeat my performance from Halloween by singing Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero”. Casey joins me on stage, I dropped the microphone at one point, and our rendition was either fantastic or completely terrible. At this point I’ve also started handing over my EBONY notebook to friends. All they’ve written for the Enrique performance, and the entirety of our stay at the North End, is: BOOOO!!!!!!!

We head next door to Bobby Love’s, #170, which is ALSO a karaoke bar. 15 minutes after the first performance of “Hero”, I sing it again. I suppose I'll need to branch out if I'm ever going to moonlight at karaoke lounges. Casey joins me on stage, again. Thankfully I didn’t drop the microphone mid-song this time. This time, in my notebook, written by someone else, is:
“HE WAS AMAZING!!!” (and the “amazing part” has been violently crossed out by someone else). Then, “the whole crowd joined in and sang with kyle. Amazing. Turned straight men gay. Next up, some guy named benji. Wow, val and laura are effing amazing, how do I not love them? Next thing I know, Louie walks on the dance floor and flashed everyone. The crowd went wild. We all cheered, the bar closed. Everyone got herpes. THE END”
I decide I’m never giving my notebook to my friends again.

We head to our last Boystown bar to cross off the list, The Kit Kat Lounge, #171. They’re close to closing (well, the kitchen at least) and aren’t happy a large crew has just showed up hungry. It’s a much quieter and subdued vibe here, but not so much quieter that everyone doesn’t wake up the next morning with severe hangovers.

Next recap up soon...keep checking in! We're almost done with this godforsaken journey.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Final Countdown

There is finally light at the end of our tunnel. I had my doubts in the last couple of months, but there will soon be a huge weight lifted off our shoulders. We realize that we're still behind in getting past bars updated, but we wanted to get our itinerary for the coming weeks posted to keep everyone in the loop. As of now, this is our plan to visit the final 11 bars we still have remaining:

12/19: Mini barcrawl of Galway Bay -> Mickey's Pub -> Ole Lounge -> Berlin -> somewhere fun
12/20: While watching some football at Tryst -> Purple Haze -> Nisei Lounge
12/22: Schubas Holiday Party
12/23: The finale of Rockhouse -> Las Fuentes -> Kingston Mines

So open up your schedules and keep us in the loop if you want to join.

As I said, we still have two weekends of visitations to recap. At the end of November we hit up bars #165-171 at Bridget McNeills, Joe's on Broadway, F O'Mahoney's, Charlie's, North End, Bobby Love's and Kit Kat Lounge. We thought for sure that we would close Boystown out this night, but Berlin will just have to wait until this coming weekend. We also started December off in style at bars #172-176 at the Elbo Room, Rockwood Place, Bernie's, Rockit, and the Full Schilling before eventually going to SmartBar to see Peter Hook, formerly of New Order spinning. See you soon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

EBONY vs City of Chicago, Day 1

Even with the delay of officially posting the story of the "incident", word spread fast. Yesterday was my turn to represent myself in day 1 of 2 (hopefully only 2) of EBONY vs the City of Chicago. I didn't really know what to expect going in to this. I had the legal team of Holland & Holland to consult in the leading weeks to the hearing, along with many google searches for any helpful tips in our case. Also, if I had a dollar for every time someone recommended I plead that I have uromysitisis, I'd be able to buy the new $7.99 combo at Sonic. I show up to the hearing 45 minutes early as I took a half-day at work not knowing how long this would last. I check in to court room 101 and walk in to see the honorable Judge Richard Byrne behind the desk. The room is empty and he looks pretty bored. He tells me to check in with the clerk in the side room. The clerk looks over my case and gives me two options: either except a plea, or see the judge and let it be up to him. The plea bargain came with two options. Option one was to pay $100 right now and I'm on my home. Option two was to participate in one day of community service. I asked what the community service consisted of as I feel repaying my debt to society would be a noble cause. He looks confused and says, "no one has ever accepted the community service option, let me look it up." In the end it consisted of picking up trash at a southside park from 7am to 3pm on a weekday. I told him I accepted the payment of $100. I left the clerks office and told the judge my decision. Within 3 minutes of entering court I was on my way home. To top it off, I was allowed to pay my fine with a credit card. So at least I get an extra 100 miles on American Airlines out of this, plus it was easy handing over my American Express knowing that they take the biggest cut out of all major credit cards from the merchant. All-in-all, I'd say this was a victory. I read horror stories of fines being between $200-500 bucks, and even worse stories of things that get put on your criminal record. To top it off, I killed 60 minutes at Macy's beforehand and took advantage of their 1 day 60% off sale and cleaned house with some X-Mas shopping which saved me $160. EBONY 1, City of Chicago 0.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shopping, an Essay.

Reprinted with permission of the author (well, duh! the author is me). Written a few years ago, and relevant to what's filling up some of your free time these days.

"I always forget how much I really really really LOVE shopping until the holiday season rolls around. I wouldn't call myself an avid consumer, it's not that often I find myself in the mall. you see, I live with this condition...I guess it's a condition, I don't know what else to call it...where I set off the alarms at 75% of the stores I enter/exit. It's the stupidest hassle in the world. Some places don't really give a damn. Some clerks just brush it off because they heard the bells & whistles when I walked into the store, and I remind them when I'm walking out that I'm *probably* going to set the alarm off. Often after setting them off on my entrance I don't set them when I leave, which is bizarre. Some of the clerks tell me it's probably my cell phone, although I've changed cell phones 3x in the last 7 years and this hasn't gone away. Going to borders or barnes & noble is fun because I need to alert the hired holiday security guard prior to leaving so they don't chase me down. When I alert them and then somehow fail to trigger the noisemakers I become even more of a suspect in their eyes. Clothing stores with diligent customer service employees trying to impress the boss are always great...they want to go through my bags, my pockets, my coats, and run them all over the demagnetizing sensor before I'm allowed to leave. No matter how many times I tell them its just me they don't get it. They are CONVINCED that some subpar employee at some other clothing store forgot to take off a sensor. "I don't think it's anything in that bag. This happened at the Gap, at Restoration Hardware, at Sharper Image, at Old Navy, and at Forever 21 all five times I've been there today." "No, I'm absolutely sure there's something in one of these bags that is setting off the alarms." Often I find myself hovering around the exit waiting to notify someone, it's like I'm trapped inside loitering until I can track down an employee to let me leave. At the thanksgiving day children's table of retail shopping I'm forever waiting for permission from an adult to be excused."

happy holidays. stimulate your local economy, not those garbage stores i mention above.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Breakin' Rocks in the Hot Sun...

Why does it seem like lately all of my posts begin with an apology for our tardiness?

Today is Monday, 12/7, and this post recaps the events of the night of Thursday, 11/12. Yikes. Best to get on with the postin’…

Our evening begins at The Gaslight (#155), where we are joined by my younger brother as well as Internet Celebrity Baumer. Why Baumer even showed up is beyond me, as he was 9 days away from running his first marathon. Rick and I start off with a couple of 3 Floyds’ Robert The Bruce, Grant orders the New Belgium Fall Wild Ale. The Gaslight is a good bar, they’ve got a great food menu, and the place is often crowded. Our waitress has a script tattoo on her forearm that we spend dinner guessing what it might read. We later find out it’s French for “Live in the Moment.” Not what anyone guessed.
Grant and I enjoy the tilapia fish tacos, Rick ordered the Hickory Burger, as follows:
“I’ll have the Hickory burger, without cheese. I realize that’s why the burger has it’s name, but the thought of cheese spread on a burger sounds horrible to me.”

Internet Celebrity Baumer asks, “Will there be blog updates in 2010?” Wait and see, ICB, wait and see.

We finish our dinner and start the crawling. Next up, Southport City Saloon (#156). This is a local hangout, not the kind of place that’s a destination to get your friends from other neighborhoods to come visit. It has character, and characters. The old men at the bar are all drunk on wine, one of them repeatedly spills his glass on the bar. One girl is here alone waiting on a friend. We decide that she’s right in ICB’s wheelhouse, and we would spend the rest of the evening writing a song dedicated to her. Ask Rick about his freestyle rap section. PBR’s are on special for $2.50, the bears and niners are currently tied at 0. It won’t stay this way.
Friend of my brother and fellow Baby Atlas-devotee Sarah shows up. She’s been reading of our exploits all year and has only now made her first appearance. Sarah was the first to complain that EBONY had no presence on Twitter (we do now if you haven’t been following @emptyblog). Months ago I told her she had exclusive rights to the EBONY Interview. She thought it meant we would be interviewing her, although I can’t for the life of me figure out why we would do that. That she’s expected to interview us comes as a surprise, so we spend the next 2 bars helping her come up with questions for an interview that may or may not ever grace these pages.

Moving on…our second attempt to visit Maeve (#157) is a successful one (it was closed on a previously attempted visit). A round of PBR’s and 1 Hoegaarden are ordered, and someone in attendance has a puppy dog that we’re all pretty shocked I didn’t attempt to steal. Rick, what’s the count now for number of bars we’ve visited this year that had a dog present? “6”
There’s nothing special about this place tonight. I’d recommend it’s less pretentious neighbor Tavish if you’re ever at the intersection of Wrightwood and Wayne.

Heading further east down Wrightwood we stop in what used to be a fantastic neighborhood bar, Wrightwood Tap (#158). I say used to, because sometime in the last 4-5 years they gutted the place and turned it into a copy of everywhere else. They do have complementary pretzel sticks at the bar, so I’ll give them that. The special is $3 import/microbrews. We ask the waitress what our choices are. She looks at the taps…, “Umm…pretty much Sierra.” The idea of an EBONY 12/19 formal holiday bar crawl is discussed. Nothing is set in stone. The music is terrible here (Buckcherry). The conversation briefly turns back to Halloween, and Grant makes the keen observation as to why a lot of people in boystown didn’t get Rick’s costume (roe v wade). I turn my notebook over to Sarah for the official EBONY interview. A sampling of quotes and notes, I’ll attempt to attribute quotes where I know who said them:

“Those bitches are drinking coors light..the mountains aren’t even blue.”
“I’m the middle child who does things for attention.” – Kyle
“You didn’t REALLY meet Baumer on Craigslist, did you?”
“It’s that stupid Black Eyed Peas ‘mazeltov’ song. Is Lenny Kravitz the only black jewish person?” - Rick
“Romance isn’t the purpose of EBONY. At best, it’s the 4th priority of the mission.” - Kyle
“Who’s this Kip Bayless guy?” - Grant

After 25 minutes, during which time Amanda and her GIANT BACKPACK show up, we take off for the Toasted Ox (#159). This is a terrible bar (we’re about to hit a stretch of terrible bars…bear with us). The special here? The sign says it’s $2 you-call-it’s. Apparently the bar isn’t aware of how bar promotions actually work, because the only thing thats $2 is a plastic Dixie cup full of Miller Lite. My brother asks me to order him a gin & tonic, but I mishear what he says. He is confused when I bring him a Guinness. I try explaining our 2009 mission to our waitress, but I’m fairly certain she’s never had a conversation with anyone for longer than 2 sentences. The guy tending bar with her is sporting a ludiculous pompadour.

Again, moving on, as soon as beers are finished but not soon enough. Rick and I head across the street to Clarke Bar, #160. This is the place attached the breakfast joint on Lincoln, and we’ll just go ahead and award it the Grand Prize in the “Never Judge A Book By It’s Cover” category. From the outside, it looks like a bar I’d spend a lot of time at…from the outside you’d guess it has a similar feel and atmosphere to the brand new bar area inside Lincoln Hall. Cozy, enjoyable, good people, good drinks, well decorated and inviting. That’s from the outside. On the inside…on the inside they’re serving $5 plastic pitchers of Miller Lite, roughly half of the population appears underage, and there’s garbage on most of the tables. I feel like we’re at some 18 year old’s basement party. Inexplicably they’re charging an entry fee at the door, I’m still not sure why. Grant and his friends are lagging behind us at this point. He has the following encounter with the doorman:
D: “$10 cover for each of you.”
G: “What?! $10 cover for this place?”
D: “Okay, how about $10 total?”
G: “How about $5 total?
D: “Hmm…okay”.
(Grant then steps away to answer his phone. It was me calling to confirm that, yes, we were inside this bar. He returns to the door with his friends, literally not 30 seconds from the end of the last conversation.)
D: “$10 cover for each of you.”
G: “You just said $5 total!”
D: “I did? Aww, man. I’m sorry…okay $5 total. Here, take a beer bong!”

We leave Clarke Bar shortly after entering. Now, we originally planned on going for the EBONY record for number of bars in one day. This won’t be happening tonight, I'll explain why soon. Next stop is Soiree, #161. This is a bit of a club joint, complete with a line, expensive cover, and a doorman with a clipboard VIP list operating the velvet rope gateway. We’re on a mission, and we’re not waiting in line. Rick walks up to the guy and tells him, “We’re with Dan Marsden.” Wait, who? You may remember Dan Marsden from our trip to Lincoln Hall from 2 weeks prior. Rick has decided that’s a pretty good name to use for getting into bars. The doorman briefly checks his list, gives up looking, and simply lets us into the club completely skipping the lineup. That’s the best part of the entire Soiree experience. I’d never visit this place if I didn’t have to. Next time you're trying to get into a VIP-only event, go with "Dan Marsden".

We leave Soiree, and we’re hungry. We’re not sure which bars we’re going to next, but now is not the time for crossing more bars of the list. Now is the time for what has previously been referred to as “the incident”. Rick, Grant and I are walking down Lincoln, and Rick and I head down the alley behind The Hoagie Hut. I’d estimate 15-20 seconds later a police car with its lights on follows us down the alley. 3 minutes later, we both have received citations for public urination, and our court dates are in December. Grant has fled the scene and we meet him at La Bamba’s for a very late night dinner. I’ve never understood my brother’s affinity for La Bamba’s, since he works at an upscale burrito joint in Colorado. Something about misguided nostalgia for the Big 10 college experience, I guess.
Anyway, we’ll report back after our visits to the courtrooms of city hall. Our motivation having been killed for the evening, we simply retreat home after our terrible burritos.

Coming soon: maybe some beer mile pictures, a recap of 11/29, a November retrospective, and the final EBONY updates as we wrap up our 2009 mission (soon to be accomplished).

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Three Seashells

A week late, but not a dollar short. Last Tuesday night with everyone in the city having a half-day of work the next morning, we took full advantage of bar specials that were available. The evening started at the DMK Burger Bar, #162. This new burger hotspot brought to you by the proprietors of the MK and Morton’s just opened up down the street. The Internet Celebrity Baumer joined us for the christening of this establishment. The menu includes amazing burgers, tasty sides, and a plethora of American craft beers (sorry for those of you fans of the Holy Trinity in Bud, Coors, or Miller products). The burgers were quite good, not necessarily at Kuma’s level, but definitely above The Counter. Kyle and I both devoured our green chili and fried egg concoction, while Baumer took down the house special. Overall this place is great, but the only downside being the cliental of the bar. This place is a little too scenester for me, as I’d enjoy a more laid back atmosphere. Fortunately we only had a 20 minute wait as I’ve heard available tables can already take 90 minutes on the weekend.

Next on the chopping block for the three of us was Fly Me to the Moon, #163. We get word that Halljams would rather watch Ghost Dad on HBO and New Moon for the fourth time instead of hanging out with us. He has pretty much written himself out of the top 5 leaderboard, and given his extreme lameness in the last two months, he’s going to be lucky if he cracks the top 10. Including the three of us, we made up 50% of people in this piano/wine bar, with the other three being the maître d', the pianoman and the bartender/cook. Baumer and I enjoy a nice chianti, while Kyle for some reason orders a martini. Time went by extremely slow here as our only forms of entertainment were the bickering between the teenage maître d' and the bartender. Baumer gave the pianoman two bucks to play the theme from Chariots of Fire, but he barely spoke a lick of English and we only heard music from Casablanca. This also marks the big 50 of the number bars Baumer has joined us at. Salud.

The third and final destination is the Underground Lounge, #164. Jeremy and Jen meet us for some amazing Tuesday night specials. We enjoy a couple import and craft beers while watching Demolition Man on TV. We failed to use the three seashells and receive no demerits this evening. We debate the hotness of Sandra Bullock and the downward spiral of Wesley Snipes career/life. This is definitely a bar we look forward to come back to in 2010. In order to still make it to work the next morning, we call it an evening here.

More updates are still to come. Kyle still needs to update the evening that included the “incident” when Grant was in town. We also crossed 7 more bars off the list this past weekend, along with some shifting among the podium stand. The current list has 14 bars within the mile radius left, and I’m sure some will conquered this weekend, so keep your ears open about when and where.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Can Lose the Wings, but I'll Need the Guitar

The 3rd Annual post-Thanksgiving Road Trip CD-Mix Challenge

Every year my family drives from Indianapolis to Columbus, OH, (and back) on the day after Thanksgiving (while there we celebrate a sort of "extended family Thanksgiving"). 2 years ago my younger brother and I decided we'd like to control the audio selection for the drive, so we came up with the following contest:
He and I each create a cd of music that my mother has never heard before. After each song she has to score the songs from 1-5 (5 is the highest score, half points are allowed). My older brother puts all entries in random order, and replaces any duplicate songs with a track of his choosing. The idea being that when the song is played, neither my younger brother or I will know that the other selected the same song until the entire contest is over and final totals are summed. Duplicated tracks don't count in the final scoring. Highest Average at the end of all tracks is the winner.
This year we added a new rule -- one "throwaway" song that we each include that wouldn't be added to the final scoring...just to mess with mom & dad.

Results from 2009 as follows (K - my songs; G - Grant's songs; G/K - collision songs; A - older brother's replacement tracks), Mom's comments in italics:

1. The Hott Chord Is Struck - Still Flyin - G, 4.5
(during the intro): "I don't like the bass levels up that high...not the song's fault." (levels are adjusted) I enjoyed that song, I'm glad the very 1st song was one I enjoyed. It's such a pressure filled ride."

2. 16th & Valencia Roxy Music - Devendra Banhart - G, 3.5
"Umm...I just can't think up comments for all these songs."
Hilarity follows as this is just the second track and that comment has come out already.

3. Jiggery Pokery - The Duckworth Lewis Method - K's Throwaway Song, 3.5
Mom made a goofy face during the beginning, there was a lot of laughter. "I spent the entire song thinking up comments. I admire the imagination and bravery of whoever picked that song. Was that from a musical?"

4. Five Years Time - Noah and The Whale - K/G - 4
"That was a fun song! I could easily understand the words."

5. Everyday - Vetiver - G - 5
"So far that was my favorite song. I'm giving it a 5! It was enjoyable, and Dad was tapping his fingers on the steering wheel."

6. When They Fight, They Fight - Generationals - K/G - 4.5
"The beat and the rhythm were good, parts sounded like a 50's song."

7. Happy Birthday You - Jay Jay Pistolet - K - 4.5
"I liked the music, the beat, and the words."
At this point I note that this may be the highest scoring CD ever. I spoke far too soon.

8. All The Difference - Red Cortez - G - 3
"This song needed more words besides 'Sittin on a Fence'."

9. Young Adult Friction - Pains of Being Pure at Heart - G - 3
"..." "I'm trying to come up with a word. When loud parts were on I couldn't understand the vocals." Dad: "The music overwhelmed the words."

10. I Can See The Pines Are Dancing - AA Bondy - A - 5
"This might be my new favorite. I'd have to listen to the other 5 again to be sure.

11. French Navy - Camera Obscura - G - 3
"I liked the music more than the singing. There was too much repetition in the lyrics."

12. Girlfriend - Phoenix - G - 3
"It was ok, I liked the rhythm. I have the same comment about the music being better than the singing.

13. Conductor - We Were Promised Jetpacks - K - 2.5
"At first I thought it would be my least favorite, but it grew on me a little bit. I don't like those songs where you think they're going to end. If you're dancing to that, what do you do?" Dad: "It was the song that wouldn't go away."

14. Bandit Queen - Colin Meloy - K - 2.5
"It started out with a lot of promise and went downhill from there. The whistling part was poor. Gauchos in Colorado? I didn't like the part where she had 9 fingers." Kyle: The whistling part was supposed to be poor.

15. Awake My Soul - Mumford & Sons - A - 2
"There's another song I don't like." Dad: "I think that was Grant's pick."
Note: This song was played in last year's CD challenge, as an entry from me. Adam's record keeping isn't the greatest and he chose it as a replacement song for one of the duplicates. Last year, Mom gave it a 3.

16. Old Old Fashioned - Frightened Rabbit - K - 2.5
"Well, that's kind of and old fashioned song. It was OK."

***switch to disk 2***

17. Inspiration Information - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - K - 2
"I thought I was going to like that song, but I didn't. The words made no sense to me."

18. We'll See The Sun - Houses - K - 2
"Too long, too slow, too moany. Two."

19. Crosshairs - Scott Lucas and the Married Men - K - 3.5
"An improvement! I understood the words and liked the music."

20. Me and the Major - Belle & Sebastian - G - 3
"Too much harmonica near the end. I liked the beginning better."

21. 40 Day Dream - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - G - 4
"Not sure why I liked that song but I did."

22. Santa Catalina (26 Miles) - Dent May and his Magnificent Ukelele - K - 5
Immediately after the song starts Mom & Dad start singing along to every word. My fault for not doing the research to find out this was a cover of a late 50's song from The Four Preps. The score would be thrown out, but everyone enjoyed it.

23. Lights and Music - Cut Copy - G's Throwaway Song - 3
"That sounded like the 80's, like disco music."

24. Let's Fall Back In Love - Slow Club - K - 3
"How many people are singing that song? It sounds like a Sunday School song."

25. Wait For Me - Jamie Lidell - G - 4
"I liked that song, I liked the rhythm, I liked the words."

26. Dream City - Free Energy - G - 4.5
"I liked both the words and music, I almost started singing along." Dad: "I've heard that song on Grant's radio show before."

27. Hysteric - Yeah Yeah Yeahs - K - 3
"I couldn't tell if the whistling at the end of the song was from the back seat or on the song. I guess it was entertaining."

28. The Privateers - Andrew Bird - K - 2.5
"What was that song about? I don't want your health insurance? I thought he said he didn't want fire insurance either."

29. Never Had Nobody Like You - M. Ward - K/G - 4.5
"That was like a mix of Elvis and the Beatles. That's all I have to say."

30. Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin' - Mayer Hawthorne - G - 5
"Mo-townish song...someone knew I'd love that one."

31. Casanova, Baby! - The Gaslight Anthem - K - 3
"I thought the music overwhelmed the lyrics a little."

32. Oh, Paris! - Dent May and his Magnificent Ukelele - G - 3
"Again, I liked the music more than the singing or the words."

Results:
Grant wins again, continuing his undefeated 3-year streak. He has 12 songs that average 3.79, I have 11 songs averaging a 2.77 (the lowest score ever).
The songs that are thrown out because we both picked them scored 4, 4.5, and 4.5
My Dent May selection, also thrown out because they had heard it before, scored a 5.
Adam's 3 songs score 2, 3, and 5, with the 5 possibly being Mom's favorite.

Notes:
Scottish singers and human dismemberment don't result in good scores. Mom doesn't like false endings, or whimsical subject matters. She also thinks this is the most pressure-filled car ride she takes every year because she has to come up with comments on every song.
My throwaway song outscored Grant's, but we'll have to come up with a new "twist" rule for next year because they'll be expecting throwaways.
After the first year, it was Grant's job to come up with a trophy that would go to the winner. As he hasn't lost yet, he hasn't bothered to create the trophy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reader Submission

An email we've received (from Chuck, who currently sits in 2nd):

I just caught up on the last couple EBONY posts and I take particular issue with a comment you made about me:

"A couple of us in the crowd had a Bud Light Golden Wheat as a taste test. If I had to guess who, my money would be on Chuck and Sefly, the lovers of the nastiest beer on earth – Coors Light."

I take issue not because you claim I love the nastiest beer on earth, because your opinions on Coors Light have every right to be voiced in a forum such as the EBONY blog (and they are just that - opinions). I would note that my preference for Coors Light is simply over Miller Lite (slightly), and a landslide over Bud Light. It is simply my choice of beers when quantities will be high and it makes the most sense for the evening to stick to light beers. That said, Coors, while being my beverage of choice when light cheap beer is the theme of the night, it would likely not break my top 200 beers if I were to sit down and rank them. Again, I do not take issue in the Coors comment. My beef is assuming that I would go for a Bud Light Golden Wheat because of that. I never, by my own motivation, drink Bud product. It just tastes much worse than most other cheap light beers. It sits in the horrible category with Busch Light, Old Milwaukee, and Heinekin. There are occassions, of course, where I will drink it such as the Beer Mile (mandated brand, also possibly why I suck at it), or if at a keg party, the keg is Bud Light - I will be drinking it but you can count on a few under-my-breath comments lamenting it's inferior taste. Of course, I am not a huge beer snob (occassional to part-time snob, maybe) so I will willingly (if eagerly) take a Bud from a bud(dy) who bought a round of Buds for the group, but when my turn to buy comes around - I'm not getting Bud.

As I've gotten further into my objection, I realized that I am taking subject with your opinion based primarly on my opinion about Bud. It feels much more that an opinion in my head and in my heart, but truly, that is all that it is. Given that I now accept your opinion on Coors Light as only yours, but that you also use it to bury Bud even further than Coors, I take less issue.

Hell, forget it all - no hard feelings. Next time we're out I'll buy you a delicious Eleanor Roosevelt*, or even a Bud.



*Eleanor Roosevelt, aka Edmund Fitzgerald, aka Illinois ~~something~~ (i don't quite recall what Broseph misheard it as)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Into the Mirror

Just a minor maintenance update today. With Grant in town last weekend, we crossed seven more local bars off the list last Thursday night. It was definitely a fun night out, but the ending was quite a buzzkill which involved Chicago’s finest. Kyle should post a full recap on this evening in the near future. Looking towards the end of 2009 in accomplishment of our goal, I believe there are still 25ish bars left to conquer. With the holiday season around the corner, we’ll need to pull off some mad dashes in the coming Thursday thru Saturday nights to meet our end goal. Unfortunately there will be no EBONY fun this weekend with Kyle hitting up the Rogue brewery in PDX, and me heading down to the cultural hotbed of central Indiana to view some XC action. Put in your requests now for which of the remaining bars you want to tackle with us. We’d like to make the last month extra special. We are also looking for recommendations for end of the year accomplishment party, please leave us some feedback on where this event should be hosted? Should it be the very last bar we visit (if so, which should be leave available?), or should it be the best bar we visited all year? Our ears are open.

Remaining local watering holes:
Berlin (Baumer, I’m looking in your direction)
Bernie’s
Bobby Love’s
Bordos
Bridget McNeill’s
Charlie’s
Draft Tavern (replacing Mix, but still not open)
Elbo Room
F O’Mahoney’s
Fly Me to the Moon
Full Schilling
Galway Bay
GFK Burger Bar
Joe’s on Broadway
Kingston Mines (Chuck, this is you)
Las Fuentes (still open?)
Nisei Lounge
North End
Ole Lounge
Rockit
Rockwood Place
The Rockhouse
Tryst
Underground Lounge

Update on the EBONY Friends Rankings, those in podium contention:
Baumer – 48 (the gold is clinched)
Chuck – 22 (battle for the 907 crown)
Broseph – 21
Selfy – 20
Annie – 19
Hall – 19 (weak lately)
Chenoweth – 17 (too slow)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rocktober

With the recent bout of laziness on our parts, I thought I’d try to get the ball rolling and sum up the end of October. This is a more difficult task than I envisioned when I came up with the idea a mere 15 minutes ago in line getting food at our lovely Café 300. On back-to-back evenings we closed out four bars in Halloween fashion. Memories are grim, but I’m willing to bet I won’t return to any of these new establishments in the near future. One place I cannot wait to return to though is Late Night Thai, what an amazing concept. You open a joint right at the hub of Belmont/Ashland and cater the drunken masses only between the hours of 9PM and 3AM. Bravo Thailand.

Halloween Eve marked the return to guys night out. After a brief hiatus, the crew of Selfy, Chuck, Broseph, Eickhoff and the newly appointed Chicago Chapter member, Morris, met us to make up for lost time. The evening started at a solid dive bar that goes by the name of the Side Street Saloon, #151. We’ve tried to visit the saloon a couple times in the past, but for whatever reason when we came by, it was closed. I have suspicion in coming here because the last time we walked by, we saw a sticker in the window of Cubs cartoon character urinating on the Sox logo. A couple of us in the crowd had a Bud Light Golden Wheat as a taste test. If I had to guess who, my money would be on Chuck and Sefly, the lovers of the nastiest beer on earth – Coors Light. We don’t stay long as we have tickets to catch ‘Bye Bye Liver’ at Fizz. The drinking game/play is what we expected, even with Eickoff getting called out for not knowing the song in “name that tune.” Most of the excitement happens after the play when a chick dressed as Wonder Women tries her damndest to make an in with our group. As Derek would say, she’s looking to go to pound town. She never did find this pound town, even though Morris led her on a wild goose chase that comprised of many drinks (for himself, and others in our group) at her expense, constant badgering and teasing, and even a free cab ride home that left her as puzzled as Brent training for a marathon in the back of the cab. The quote of the night: “Who are you here with?”

In the middle of this excitement, we also visited The Shire, #152 along the way. Kyle randomly meets up with some friends as we listen to the smooth jazz sound of one of my high school track teammates playing the sax in a group that sounds remarkably similar to Jamiroquai. The evening concluded with the previously mentioned Late Night Thai. Amazing.

Halloween afternoon started with some pre-gaming at our place. A group of us walked on down to Boytown with our book bags full of street booze to consume as we watched the Halloween parade go down Halsted. Many amazing and maybe inappropriate costumes were there for the showing. Maybe one day we’ll see some of the pictures from Derek, who seems to bring his camera to all gatherings we have in Boystown. After Annie shows up I finish my bottle of sangria, Kyle downs an extra beer, and we head to the L&L with Baumer’s crew. After a few here we head to some new bars. We visit Jacqueline’s, #153 and Rocks Lakeview, #154 amidst a few house parties (one’s we were invited to, and one’s we crashed IU style) and a blurry/unknown bar we randomly ran into Costello at. From this, I only remember a really obnoxious Iowa fan (go figure), the 3 Amigo’s dancing, a really old dog named Roy, drinking jungle juice, and seeing Tobias Funke on my stumble home. Kyle tops this by walking in to Trader Todd’s and immediately sings ‘Hero’ in his Enrique costume. Awesome.

That was 20 minutes well spent, back to running correlations.

Empty Post of Nothing

sorry, we've got a lot of catching up to do. We'll try to do that in the next week. Recaps needed for:
October 30th
October 31st
November 12th
November 14th

We've got about 25 bars left. Tentatively planning a formal bar crawl on 12/19 to cross the last remaining stragglers off the list. You're all coming along and you know it.

In the meantime...COLTS!


(thanks Dad for the picture)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Home Of The Hypocrite

The Duke of Perth, #148, is an institution. Well, I don’t really know that. Maybe it’s not an institution. They have all you can eat fish & chips (& PEAS) on both Wednesday and Friday nights. Always. That’s not a seasonal special or a “throw this on the menu so we can get rid of it”-thing, it’s something that is etched into their being.

We chose the busier of those two available nights for dinner and drinks at the DOP, and the 3 of us had to wait about 15 minutes for a table in the crowded bar area. Three of us, as Rick and I are joined by my French-Canadian hockey & music-loving journalist friend Raphael. Raphael claims to be an excellent writer, here’s his webpage. I say “claims” because he writes in French. I have no way of proving if this writing is any good, but he seems to write a lot, and other people seem to write in French on his Facebook page quite a bit too, so we’ll just take his word for it. He’s moving back to Montreal before the end of the month, that’s too bad.

The fish is good -- of course it is! They use PBR for the beer batter. There are no vulgar displays of eating tonight, which is rare when I’m at the table. I don’t think any of us get further than a 4th fish. I don’t have my notebook on me, so I can’t tell you what beers we were drinking. I know mine was dark.

That’s it for bars on 10/23. I then joined Raphael at the Metro to see Airborne Toxic Event. Prior to the show, weeks ago, when I didn’t even know this show was on my calendar, a friend and I discussed this band and decided their material was radio-friendly but incredibly overwrought. Not nearly at Meatloaf levels of overwrought (MY EMOTIONS ARE ALL HYPERBOLE!), but maybe at teenage-first-love I’ve-never-expressed-my-feelings-before and here’s-how-strong-they-are levels. Actually, those two might be reversed in terms of extremes…nevermind. You get what I’m saying, they’re not at either of those heights, but man, when they sing something, THEY MEAN IT.

So anyway. The band plays their intro song, mostly instrumental. Then they play another song I recognize from the album. Then the cover The Drifters' “This Magic Moment”, which is probably one of the 50 greatest songs ever written, and they do a good job. Of course they do a good job, they MEAN IT, and this song is about MEANING IT. I also begin to notice a recurring theme in their music, aside from MEANING IT, is that they write songs about drinking. I’m a fan of those. The show progresses, and eventually after more songs about drinking, covers of Morrisey, Springsteen, and the Jim Carroll Band, I decide these guys are actually pretty good live. So, maybe go see them if you like that kind of thing. They exceeded expectations, especially if your expectation is a 1.6 and you didn’t pay for a ticket. Damn it. I wrote this entire entry before actually reading that 1.6 review for the first time and see that Ian Cohen emphasized how they “mean it” before I thought of it. Guess that’s why he’s a writer and I just recap drinking. I shake my fist in unmasked admiration at you, Ian.

Tuesday, 10/27 – Rick and I meet the recently re-motivated Halljams at The Spread, #149. It’s a pit stop for dinner before our first visit to the recently opened Lincoln Hall down the street. The Spread used to be a classier restaurant, now it’s a standard upscale bar. Apps are ½ off, we order a lot of them -- Veggie Quesadillas, Slidersx2, Chicken Tenders, Fries, and whatever Halljams ordered (Mac Snacks?).

Our conversation topic turns to marathons…specifically Boston and New York. Nearly all of the OMTC has now signed up for Boston in April, so I’m looking forward to finishing EBONY’s 2009 mission and getting some serious winter training going. New York, being only a few weeks away at the time, and this past weekend as of this writing, turned out to be one glorious day for US men’s distance running. Meb Keflezighi takes the title wearing his USA jersey, the first American man to win NYC since 1982. 6 other Americans finish in the top 10. This inspires both Rick and I to sign up for Boston immediately after watching the race on television.
Some idiot writers in the press and online seem to have decided that since Meb wasn’t born in the US, his win doesn’t really count as American Victory. I won’t bother linking to those articles because they already don’t deserve the online traffic spikes they’ve been seeing due to their outrageous claims. Really though, America, Meb’s family moved here when he was 12 years old. He proudly wears his USA jersey in most events. He is a product of American Distance Running. He has represented our country in the Olympics. He trains with American coaches and other American athletes. He’s been an American citizen since 1998. It wouldn’t matter to me if he became an American citizen last week. Seems like some in our society only know how to connect with a person or appreciate a story when they look like you, talk like you, have the same background as you, and meet whatever high standards you require in order for them to represent and stand under the same title and flag you wave – because the standards and regulations upheld by the USCIS apparently aren’t good enough for you. Their views are full of crap. I guess we’ve got fringe everywhere now, and the problem with the internet age is that increasingly the ideas of the fringe are given status larger than that of a soapbox on a street corner. America is...

I digress. Marsden joins us at The Spread as we get our bill, and we move down to Lincoln Hall, #150. It’s a great place for such a nice round number. Fittingly for both Rick and I, the 150th bar we’ve crossed of our list this year is a music hall serving great beer and showcasing excellent music. Tonight’s lineup has friends of the gregarious Halljams, The Prairie Cartel, up first, followed by The Smith Westerns and Neon Indian. Neon Indian's show is billed as “their first in Chicago”, but faithful readers will know that EBONY saw them perform in our fair city just 1.5 months ago. Marsden has a beer with us, so he officially joins the very long list of supporters who have shared a pint and taken part on our journey this year.

The Cartel is great, as expected, although the size of the room and the mix of the band leave a little something to be desired. I want the bass and general noise to shake the room and everything in it. It’s just not quite loud enough. Hope they get this figured out for future shows (both the Cartel and Lincoln Hall). I couldn’t begin to describe the Smith Westerns, we spent their set in the front room drinking. Neon Indian was as expected, same show as before in the loft-space, just with more indie-kids and blogosphere readers in attendance this time around. Not a bad set, but as a Prairie Cartel member put it, “You’ll just spend the set trying to figure out if the girl is hot and the 2 guys are brothers.”

Until next time (next time being the post that includes 2 nights of our ridiculous halloween weekend). Would you dance, if I asked you to dance?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ageing Has Never Been His Friend (2nd time)

First -- this pie chart over here on the right is old and out of date. Maybe I'll fix that soon. Or I'll just remove it. On with the chlorophyll!

Celebrating Falcon Heene Day (10/15/09), I meet Rick and Internet Celebrity Baumer at Beckett's, #141 (formerly Belly's). This is the first bar that has closed and reopened under a different name within the year, necessitating a return trip. Beckett's is owned, operated, decorated, and serves the same menu as it's sister- (brother?) bar, Wilde. Before I arrive Rick sends me a text saying it feels like he's drinking in a library. I show up and that "library" is playing Britney Spears.
The Blue on Blue burger is above average, and our waitress/manager stops by multiple times to have the same check-in conversation over and over.
"You guys okay? ... Awesome."
"You guys okay? ... Awesome."
"You guys okay? ... Awesome."

The Blackhawks, having just days earlier put together an improbable comeback, are not performing as expected. They will lose this game, leaving us disappointed. My Grimbergen Double Ale does something similar.

Go Southeast, Young Man! So the three of us do...down Lincoln to Witt's, #142. Belguim beers are on special on Thursdays, so I go to the restroom and return to find we're all drinking Delerium Tremens. We listen to Cake and Pearl Jam, exchange Major League lines w/ a solo drinker at the bar, and I remember to write down a few of the more notable quotes from the conversation:
"Vampires and Umpires are only 2 letters away. Coincidence?"

"Speaking of mushrooms...did you see that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are bidding on the Olympics together?"

"Hiccups...one of the most annoying things you can have."
"That, and syphillis."

Thursday night ends and we're smart enough not to tackle any additional EBONY bars.

Moving on to Saturday...Rick runs in and I ride the lead bicycle for the Pumpkins in the Park 5k. A couple of drinks at the beer tent, a brief stop at home to clean up, and then we're out for the evening.
First stop, meeting Internet Celebrity Baumer and EBONY-virgin Borling at Galway Arms, #143. This is a geniune Irish bar down on the southeast corner of our radius (do circle's have corners? i guess not). The 4 of us discuss marathons, I devour a hearty guinness beef stew, and we drink a couple of $4 20 oz Sam Adams. Not a bad deal. I show Borling the EBONY notebook as we fill him in on the process. He begins to leaf through it..."Wait! I'm in this notebook already!" I have his name written down on page one from a story Baumer told us 20 bars ago.

A large crowd plans on joining us soon, so we move somewhere with more room. A couple of filthy back-of-the-room tables open up at The Other Side, #144 just after we arrive, and our growing crew begins to take over. Represented tonight: Abby, her visiting brother Zach, Jamie, Bode, Ken, Kathy, Reamer, Verdo, Molly, Carolyn D, maybe others I've forgotten to write down.
All our friends manage to do initially is prevent us from being served beer. Finally our 312's arrive alongside some fried cheese curds. The marketing genius who came up with the name "curd" probably didn't stop to think about their shape and it's phonetic resemblence to something else.

Drinking beer steins leads to a discussion about Octoberfest (the real one, in Germany), which leads us to conclusions that it is the exact OPPOSITE of Wrigleyville. Everyone is drunk & people pretty much get away with whatever shenanigans they want, except it's actually fun and the meatheads aren't violent.
Baumer, on his 8th or 9th beer now, has his arm around our waitress.
Ken walks into the restricted kitchen hoping to find out if the BBQ sauce they used was Sweet Baby Ray's. He is escorted out without an answer. This would be the first time this evening we would have run-ins with tavern authority figures.
Zach has never heard the animal/bar jokes (he lives in Boston...if he lived in Chicago he'd have heard me tell all of them at least 20 times by now). He gets them. The girls have a dance party to Toto.
A surly Aussie suddenly stops by our table, corners Borling, and proceeds to close-talk him for a good 6 minutes. Rick and I lean in, and we can't decipher a word. The guy finally leaves, Borling says, "I couldn't understand a word either. I didn't know if he was hitting on me or if he wanted to fight us."
Obviously we stayed at The Other Side longer than we planned, but everyone was having a grand time.

Next up...we move north to Frank's, #145. Years ago 2 friends of mine (Tim & Tim) got themselves into a cake fight with each other. Covered in frosting, they had to walk to our old apartment to change clothes and this trek took them past Frank's. For kicks, they tried to stop in and the bouncer denied their entry. Tim yelled at him. "What, you guys don't like cake?!"
On our trip to Frank's Rick danced across Clark St and stopped taxi traffic. Jeff, one of the managers, sees my notebook, asks me about it, and gives us free shots when we explain the premise behind EBONY. Note to self (and readers): use this idea for free shots. A large majority of The Other Side crowd follows us to Frank's. Rick stands on one of the booths, the bouncer yells at him, "You've got 2 strikes! One more and you're out of here!" I don't recall what strike one is, but run-in number 2 is in the books.

Since Saturday night is in full swing, we need to check more bars off the list. We head north again, this time planning on visting Matisse, #146. I order 2 Summitt Octoberfest beers -- both of us much prefer the Octoberfest fall selection over the pumpkin ales that also show up this time of year. I tried the Dogfish Pumpkin beer last week, and it's safe to say if I don't even like the Dogfish variety I'm not going to like any other brewery's creation. Today has turned into a very very rare night out where Rick is drunker than I am. Matisse is a laid back, loungy, chill, basement bar with mood lighting. Rick is in the mood for a party and doesn't like this. He's also starving. Rob shows up, Zach, Abby & Jamie show up. Rick leaves, planning to go get food. We send Zach after him, figuring the buddy system always works best.
They return in 15 minutes with stories about a closed KFC and making sandwiches behind the counter at Dunkin Donuts. The bouncer sends Rick outside to eat his sandwich, no outside food allowed in. He sulks his way through his sandwich, and returns to announce his major displeasure with Matisse and serves up a warning about the skewering they will receive within the pages of EBONY. He doesn't finish his shouting diatribe as the bouncer kicks him out. Run-in #3 in the books! It may have taken us 146 bars to get here, but one of us finally got kicked out of a bar.

Next stop...heading up into boystown to a lesbian bar, The Closet, #147. Something about everyone taking pictures of themselves holding a Charleston Chew became a running theme here, I'm not sure if I can explain this one. A girl is dancing solo on the empty makeshift dance floor, and I join her for some twirling and dipping. We (the collective 'we', this certainly includes me) are all shocked that I manage not to drop her on her head. It's been a long night, and we've still got a crowd of 6 in attendance with us. The friends-rankings are heating up. Spots 2-10 are all still undecided, even though we all know Baumer is taking home the title.

We've visited another 3 bars since then, so we're resting at a very lofty and round 150 bars off the list. As Rick mentioned in the last post, it's been rough lately. I long for the days of visting just 1 bar in an evening, and the constant movement and planned bar-hopping wears on us. I mean, really, think about this. It's the end of October, and I've been to 150 bars within a mile of where I live. That's ridiculous. My wallet and my liver scream for Father Time to bring us January 1st ASAP.

Couple of internet things of interest for ya:
Letters of Note -- this is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. A blog with historical letters of note. Read Hunter S. Thompson getting pissed at Hollywood types. Read Samuel Clemens' letter to a 9-year old girl. One of my favorites, read Beethoven's tortured letter explaining the loss of his hearing and how he hid it from the world, only to be opened by his brother's upon his death.

The NBA season kicked off last night. If you're a fan of the hoops, and you're anywhere near the same age as I am, you'll enjoy this 2009-10 preview from the always superb guys at Free Darko dot com:
Growing Older and the NBA

More later this week. Stay Tuned as we wrap this damn project up!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's a long way to the top, if...

As the summer days of Chicago (and maybe even the fall) are behind us, we approach October with our eyes on the prize. The third quarter is over, and as public companies fuss over their financial statements and earnings calls to appease their stockholders, we say to you, our personal shareholders, EBONY is for real in 2009. Through Q3, our attempt at completeness has brought us 76% of the way there. I’d say we’re right on marathon pace and ready to tackle Heartbreak Hill around the corner. As of the most recent count, there are 184 bars total on the list, and we have 37 left after tackling 8 so far in October, and adding 3 new ones with F. O’Mahoney’s, Lincoln Hall and Rockwood Place (replaces Central, which sucks, because going to Central already was one of the low points of the year). I’m willing to bet there is still a couple more out there that we’ll notice on the way and make sure to add them in.

This journey has been a rollercoaster for me. For what started seemingly as a joke, has turned in to a dedication that I had not expected. A major shout out goes to my girlfriend Annie, for putting up with my drunken mess at nights and not getting upset when we spend 8+ hours on a Saturday afternoon going from bar-to-bar instead of doing normal couple activities. Kyle and I are forever grateful to you. There have been many moments when I wanted to just quit and assume normal social activities instead. My work/life/running balance has tipped in many directions this year, but am at a point where I realize I have nothing to complain about. We are in the homestretch and there is light at the end of the tunnel. People have asked us what are goal for 2010 will be. We used to come up with crazy ideas, such as going to every bar on Clark or Western Ave in the city, but honestly, I can’t do this anymore. I have hit my threshold. I am committed to 2009, but after that, my focus needs to be reorganized. But not to end on a bummer, there is much excitement ahead of us; such as Halloween parties and the final 37 bars left to visit. My heart is fully committed and ready to let loose. Fans out there, let’s Rock n’ Roll!

Below is a brief recap of the 8 bars we visited so far this month. Kyle was the key note taker for these establishments and will provide further detail soon, so enjoy.



Blues, #140. This came after a long day of Kyle running the marathon, lots of post-race drinks at Stanleys, and me personally getting little sleep. My previous evening with Hall is worthy of an entry by itself, so Hall if you are up to challenge, feel free to ghostwrite an entry for us. As a teaser, the pre-marathon revelry started way too early at ESPN Zone and included many drinks throughout the evening with the likes of Todd Williams, numerous race directors, running store owners and plenty of banter exchanged with Bob Kennedy and Keith Dowling (who hates Chenoweth) at Timmy O'Toole's and Kity O'Sheas. Back on target, Blues was an impromtu stop from Stanleys for us. We initially wanted to go to Las Fuentes, but it was closed. We then chose Blues over Kingston Mines due to the difference in cover charges. The bar was pretty empty, no surpirse given it was a Sunday night. The live band was rocking, and the only others in the crowd were runners wearing their marathon medals in their club wear. 2 were Italian dudes who spoke absolutely no English, and the other 2 were cougars from LA on the prowl. I think that was a match made in heaven.

Beckett's, #141. Met Baumer here to watch the Hawks game. From the same owners of Wilde, but more of bar/library feel. Seidler thinks this bar is named after the bookstore Beckett's, but I'm 99.9% certain its named after the great writer Samual Beckett, especially considering his face is on the facade of the building.

Witt's, #142. Three of us came here after the 2nd period of the Hawks game. Great Belgian beer specials, so we each had a Delerium.

Galway Arms, #143. Now we begin last Saturday afternoon. This was the post Pumpkins in the Park race celebrations. Met Baumer and Borling here for quiet drinks and good conversation before the night snowballed.

The Other Side, #144. We met up with numerous other EBONY groupies. Probably had a contingent of 10+ here, good times were had.


Frank's, #145. Night now starts to get crazier. We get free shots of our choice once we flash the buisness cards. I am give 3 strikes from the bouncer before being kicked out. I only manage to use 2 strikes before leaving. Consider it a donation to next time Frank.

Matisse, #146. Apparently this bar doesn't allow outisde food, even when the bar is 80% empty. This brings out my inner hulk. My sandwiched is finshed outside on the patio and I let the bouncer know my unhappiness. I make it rain with business cards and say "You are getting the worst review EVER!". This allows the first time either of us have been kicked out of bar on this journey. About time.

The Closet, #147. My uneasiness is called by this lesbian hangout. Good times are had and the evening ends on a high note.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Instead I'm Just Crazy, and Totally Mad

In 2006 I had lofty goals for the marathon – something with a finish time around 2:50. I rolled through the half that year in 1:23:59, eventually falling apart around mile 19 with some strained core muscles that would end up bothering me all winter. I struggled to the finish line and ended up with a hugely disappointing 3:33:13.

In 2007 I lowered the goal to simply qualifying for Boston (3:10:00). This was the year of severe heat and apparent water shortages. After starting out at 7 min pace I quickly succumbed to the conditions and by mile 10 was already slower than my goal pace. It wasn’t my day, and I bailed on the race shortly after crossing the halfway point. Knowing it was only going to get hotter, and that I was already feeling the effects of the day, I didn’t need to prove to myself that I could finish a marathon. I’d done that 9 times already. I fell out of training after that; sat out the marathon in 2008 and generally stopped competitive racing.

You know about the EBONY goal for 2009, another resolution for the year came in the form of a challenge from my best friend on New Year’s Eve 2008 (mano y mano at the Shamrock Shuffle). This throwing of the gauntlet got me back on the horse, and I seemed to be working myself back into some sort of respectable running shape. Two 5k races in April followed the snowy & slushly Shamrock performance, and May brought about the Soldier Field 10 miler. My training wasn’t as aggressive or consistent as it could’ve been, but progress was being made. The wintertime inception of the Old Man Track Club helped for needed company on weekend long runs, and being asked to carry the heavy mileage on a coed Madison-to-Chicago 200 Relay team gave me something else to train for.

Another 5k followed in July, the long runs got longer in August, and a respectable half-marathon in September during my highest mileage week gave me reason to believe I might actually have a good marathon coming up in October. I’ve never trained as aggressively post-college as I know that my body and ability-level are capable of, but these are the sacrifices we make with jobs, responsibilities and social lives. I’ve always struggled going into marathons trying to find a balance between what I *know* I’m capable of and what I’m capable of *right now*.

So we arrive at the start line of the 2009 Chicago Marathon – the goal is to sit on the 3:10 pace group for 5 miles, catch the 3:00 pace group after 10 but before 15, then switch from pacing to racing for the last 10k. I’m not wearing a watch, choosing not to waste mental energy obsessing over each and every mile split.
The race starts and everything is going according to plan. The 3:10 pace seems easy, and around mile 4 I notice that I’ve pulled away from them. I don’t feel like I’m pushing things yet, so I decide to keep this effort level. Clock watching, I can tell I’m moving faster than 7 min pace, so it’s probably a little faster than I want to be. Slowing down on purpose once you’ve hit a comfortable pace is difficult, and I clearly failed at this. Split times would later show from 5k to 20k I was averaging 6:46 miles. I go by the half at 1:29:54, faster than planned, but well on target.
Tim (the catalyst for me getting back in shape to begin with) is cheering at mile 14. I run by. He doesn’t cheer for me, instead observing that the mustache I’ve given myself for the race, “Makes you look like a pedophile.” High School kids working water stations would cheer for the 'stache as well.
Around mile 15 I need to make a quick bathroom stop. Historically this has been an issue for me, so I’ve gotten pretty damned good at it. This mile probably has an extra 40 seconds, spent as efficiently as possible.

Mile 20, friend & savior Matt jumps in with me as I’ve just started hurting badly. My hamstrings and quads are as tight and sore as they can be, and my legs just feel shot. It seems getting under 6:50’s as early as I did was probably a bad idea, and I have a long history of falling apart anywhere between 18 and 24 miles into the race. Matt convinces me to stop and stretch for a minute, hoping that will help me to rebound. It does, to an extent. We get to a water stop right before the 21 mile marker. I walk with my Gatorade and tell Matt, “Here’s the deal. You get me to mile 25, don’t allow me to run anything slower than 8 minute miles, and I’ll do the rest.” We start the shuffle again. Every mile Matt reads my time, offering encouragement and a few well-placed yells. Mile 22 goes by, 7:43. Mile 23 goes by, 7:48. Mile 24 goes by, 7:55. I’m slipping further and further away from the 3-hour goal, and the two stops I made earlier during mile 20 have severely impacted my race. Boston Qualifying is 3:10, and I know I’m inching closer and closer to that time. The 3:10 pace groups, people I haven’t seen since Mile 4, begin to pass me. The wheels are coming off...
Matt and I roll by the 25 mile mark, and he doesn’t tell me my split. I ask for it, and he doesn’t say anything. I give him the death stare and demand my time. He replies, “8:11.” I reply with a very loud F-bomb that startles runners around me. We start picking it up again. I think of my friend Dan, who completed the Kona Ironman the day prior. All I'm doing is running a marathon. I think that in this year that I found out how to run competitively again I still seem to not be able to finish up a marathon. I think that I'm simply not a marathoner. I doubt myself, I curse myself, and Matt keeps talking me into pushing the pace. I yell at my legs. We finally see the turn for Roosevelt.

While I was expressing my doubts a few days prior to the race my friend Beth made her attempt at motivational speaking. She wrote to me, “Negative thinking kills everyone in everything. That’s why crazy people are so successful. Because they are so crazy they don’t think anything can stop them in what they are doing. Just get all Crazy-Kyle on the marathon. go ahead, spaz out, spaz. There is nothing to stop you. And how much does it suck to know that your dumb head is the only reason why you might mess up. It’s just a head.”

I make the turn up Roosevelt and I know my time is perilously close to the 3:10:59 I need to be under to make it to Boston. I’m pissed that once again I’ve fallen short of what I planned on running, but I know it’s still not too late to miss out on the secondary goal. I get to the top of the hill and know it’s a desperation sprint to the finish, shutting off my brain, going crazy, and I can still probably make it. Muscles burned, joints hurt, my usual rational, calculating brain has been turned off. Crazy people cannot be stopped. Crazy people cannot be stopped. 3:09:51.

A former college teammate heard them announce my name as I finished. He was 40 seconds ahead of me, so he stood and waited after the finish line. We walked through the finish area together. He’s also had a history of spectacular collapses, he ran well today, and he says, “this is the fastest I’ve ever been able to walk after the finish.” I reply, “I just want to sit down on the curb and cry for a few minutes.” We congratulate each other.

So I’m training through the winter for Boston. Halljams will be joining me. We’re now waiting for Internet Celebrity Baumer to qualify in his first marathon, and then the OMTC will be sending a trio to beantown in April. So thanks to everyone involved in my running support-group over the last 10 months – you’re much appreciated and I thank you.
I didn’t hit my goal, but it was the first full-marathon effort I’ve had in 3 years. It was the first time I’ve broken 3:10 in 5 years. And oh yeah, I’ve been to, like, y'know, 200 bars so far this year.

3 days after the marathon I've already put back on 7 lbs. They'll be shed soon enough, casualties of the solitary darkness of winter mileage.

Rick and I have some work to do these last 2.5 months. Check in often, cuz we’ll have updates. We did knock off bar #140 during Sunday night's post-marathon celebrations. I'll let Rick author that entry...he owes you a few entries anyway.

Elsewhere...check out what my brother is doing for the next two weeks.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Soft Shock

On Friday a misguided group of individuals holding signs that read "Oprah Should Get To Light The Torch" seemingly had their hopes and dreams crushed when Chicago was surprisingly eliminated in the first round of 2016 Olympic Host City voting. As friend of the blog Holland put it, "I don't think those people even knew what we were bidding on."

Sure, it would've been pretty cool to host the 'lympics here in 7 years. Our civic leadership deserved to lose out on the bid because it seems to be the only thing they've worked on in recent history. You know that years ago that Daley and the other people in charge of things in Chicago decided they didn’t need to make the *really* hard decisions and govern the city properly if they could land the 2016 olympics and get plenty of money thrown at Chicago and the metro area. It would be their get out of jail free card. When Obama was elected they figured it was a done deal. I’m sure some of them worked hard on the proposal, and I’m sorry they lost. I hoped, for the sake of the city, we would win. I hoped, for those who genuinely wanted the Olympics, that we would land it and more people from the global community would come to love the same city I do. For those in positions of power who now realize they’re screwed, I hope they get back to the city and start working on things they’ve neglected to fix. I hope the ones who don’t come back here and bust their asses get thrown out of office. I hope those who were counting on collusion and behind closed door handshake development deals go elsewhere for their profits.

Here's a few links to great commentary following the announcement:
The Reader's Mick Dumke reminds everyone there's still a city to run.

Roger Ebert requests that even though we lost the Olympic Bid, let's put that effort into winning the Derrion Albert Bid.

The Reader's Ben Joravsky visits Washington Park attempting to find at least ONE area resident upset that we lost the bid.

Pay attention to whatever Mayor Daley decides to focus his remaining energy on in the next few weeks. Let's hope it's crime & education, not more money making schemes and selling off the city's assets.

No EBONY bar visits since our trip to Wrigley. I've got the Chicago Marathon this coming weekend so I'm attempting to lay low. Rick was out of town in Minneapolis hanging out with Olympians, Al Franken, and the last* game at the Metrodome.

Here's the (probably incomplete) list of remaining bars to cross off (join us as the weather gets colder and you need dark beers to warm your insides):
Berlin
Bernie's
Blues
Bobby Love's
Bordos
Bourbon on Lincoln
Bridget McNellis
Charlies's
Duke of Perth
Elbo Room
Fly Me to the Moon
Frank's
Full Shilling
Galway Arms
Galway Bay Pub
Gaslight
Jacqueline's
Joe's on Broadway
Kingston Mines
Kit Kat Lounge
Las Fuentas
Maeve
Matisse
Nisei Lounge
North End
Ole Lounge
Rocks Lakeview
Schubas
Side Street Saloon
Soiree Bar & Lounge
Southport City Saloon
The Closet
The Other Side
The Rockhouse
The Spread
Toasted Ox
Tryst
Underground Lounge
Witt's
Wrightwood Tap

Obligatory audio commentary: I'm loving the sounds of Music Go Music. Disco Revival is fine.


*Game 163 still to be played on Tuesday. Sorry Rick!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You're with me Leather


Well shit, this post was long overdue. If not for me heading back to Wrigley tomorrow night with the Internet Celebrity himself, this evening may have never been officially documented for our EBONY followers out there. Well anyway, a few weeks back we caught a Cubs game (don't ask me who they played or what the score was) with Kyle's old man and Chuck. The only reason we went was because you can buy tickets too close to the field for a whopping $7 each on StubHub. Chuck also padded his stats in this one by passing Broseph for 2nd place behind Baumer himself. Others still in contention for the end of year podium are Hall, Selfy and Annie. Back to the game, we started at newly opened Captain Morgan Club on the SE corner of the property. To keep it simple, this place fucking sucks. I'm not quite sure why anyone would come here with the plethora of sports bar in the area. Beer costs the same as it does in the stadium and there are no redeeming factors to justify this. Other notes from this Thursday evening:
- does the Captain Morgan Club still charge $7 for a beer on road game days?
- is this place going to be able to sustain itself once winter rolls around?
- adding Old Style to the mix is a great addition to our repertoire
- the Blackhawks puck shuffle on the mini Wrigley "scoreboard" is comical
- for the most part, Wrigley is a complete dump
- maybe 20% of the crowd was even watching the game

In other news, the coming weeks may be a little slow for us. I'll be up in MPLS this weekend "running" in the USATF 10 Mile Championships, grabbing drinks at Brits, and going to the very last Twins game at the Metrodome ever. The following weekend Kyle will be joining the reigning Olympic champ in dominating the Chicago Marathon. Expect some interesting stories from the race and post race revelry. Those in the Lakeview area, look for a pack of a couple dozen of our friends joining us in some Halloween partying the night of the 24th, we'll probably be pretty easy to spot.

Final note: I had a coworker come up to me yesterday to say he came across this blog after searching for a image on google, so we got that going for us, which is nice.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

12 Bar Blues (The Betrayal) aka Drunk History

For kicks, and storytelling purposes, we're working in reverse today. My apologies for taking so long to put this one together. We'll start this way -- on Sunday night I ran into Joe and my first words to him were, "Well...last night was pretty gay." That's not an insult to the LBGT community! We actually went to something like 8 gay bars on Saturday.

Recollecting Drunk History sometimes takes a while...


Rick, Michelle and I have a round of Heineken's at 3160 Bar, #137, after a long Saturday of Labor Day weekend where no one really had anything better to do. This is a creppy little piano bar, but they're blasting Rihanna. The man at the bar next to us told me about his 17 year old cat that has recently passed. A reprieve from your sorrows is at the bottom of that bottle, my friend.

We debated for 9 months whether or not we would actually add The Lucky Horseshoe, #136 to the list. You see...it's, umm, it's pretty much just a tiny little male strip club. You can tell by it's name in boldtype that obviously we went there. Hours of alcohol intake throughout the day and we're like, "screw it, lets stop in for a drink." Rick and I have a shot of tequila and take off. Two of our business cards are given to the man performing. And...4 of our travelling companions decide to stay here. The next morning I receive the following texts from Internet Celebrity Baumer:
"Dude, it's been a rough day for me as well..still trying to figure last night out...jeremy was kissed by a gay stripper."
"I told the strpper he had a nice show...then jeremy started talking to him and he just gave him a big kiss."

Our third stop in precise backwards modern lovers order is the Old Town Hall Pub, #135. This place claims to be famous for their tuesday & wednesday comedy nights. I've never heard of this bar before. We have a couple of Mad Hatters, pizza is ordered (thankfully, I couldn't have made it much further without additional sustenance). We've got our crew of 5 in tow, pizza is devoured.

Minibar, #134 is the appropriate place for someone who drives a Mini to join us for drinks. We order a round of Miller Lites, Rick spills Joe's beer (yep, it's that point in the night). Small bar, small entry.

No night bar hopping down Halsted would be complete without encountering a group of Transvestites with large pearl necklaces. Tonight they were hanging out at Cocktail, #133. This bar has a tapper with a pink elephant on it and I want to steal it (probably Delerium? my notes are pretty awful at this point). Tall Hacker-Pschorr's are ordered and they contribute heavily to our intoxication. Joe talks about the Warrior Dash expanding to 9 cities next year, one of them taking place on a spot of land where HBO has probably filmed a segment of it's late-night after hours show. 9 cities, 9 times the fun!

Boystown loves it's cowboys, so Buck's Saloon, #132 is probably a popular joint. Internet Celebrity Baumer finds out he knows the bartender here and they went to High School together. Then he asks him to join his kickball team (that's not a euphemism for anything, Baumer asked him to join the kickball team). I have a note written down that we had a conversation about drug laws, but this sounds made up.

Having not had nearly enough to drink we order a few heavy Half Acre Over Ale pints at our next stop, the Halsted Bar & Grill, #131. Our transvestite host(ess) is friendly and I forget to ask her what (s)he thinks of comedian Eddie Izzard (also of the tranny variety) running 1,100 miles in 51 days.
Our order of 3 dark beers, 2 large lites, and 1 mixed drink comes out to $27. Somewhere after the 44th Ward we seem to have stepped into 1983. I have written down that they have "an excellent brunch" here, but I obviously cannot vouch for the accuracy of this statement. Or, actually, for the accuracy of most anything I've written so far. It was one of those nights.

Meeting back up with Jeremy & Jen we arrive at the 44th Ward Dinner Party, #130 (44th Ward follows us on Twitter (@EmptyBlog). Good job, 44th Ward! We head up the front stairs of this classy spot and move our crowd into the back lounge...which is kind of like a disco meets a brothel meets a morgue meets a circus. You kinda have to be there. I'm drinking 312, telling the entire animal-bar joke routine, and following that up with a 5-minute version of "The Bavarian Cream Pie" joke. No one laughs. Tough crowd. I have what appears to be a beer stain in my notebook, but on second thought it may be from my tears...the tears of a clown.

Cell Block, #129...well, much in the way that a place like The Roof serves a very specifc clientele (the working elite, young or trying to hang on to their youth, expendable income, and screaming "look at me!"), Cell Block also serves a very specific clientele. I'll let the poster on the wall describe it: "glory hole, fuck bench, public play area, dungeon bed, slings, bondage hooks, darkroom fetish-ready private rooms."
We drink a Smitthicks, and Internet Celebrity Baumer notices the advertisement for tomorrow night's "Furrball". He and the bartender have this conversation:
"What's a Furr?"
bartender "oh, it's like the bears, you know, the bigger/hairier guys."
"Why does it have two 'r's?"
bartender "To make it sound cuter! Like 'grrrrrr'!"

The wifi password here is leather1.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia returns very soon, and Mac often wears a shirt advertising Murphy's, #128. In the very shadow of Wrigley Field, Murphy's is the 2nd bar in a row I run into my coworker. It's mostly empty tonight (no Cubs game). The music is good (Beck "Gamma Ray"), the beers are great (literally! Great Lakes Daisy Cutter), and unfortunately I couldn't find a picture of Mac wearing his Murphy's shirt. Actually, I didn't try very hard, I came across this one and stopped looking.


Walking in between bars, we pass an asian man wearing a lime green shirt. This is only noted because when the man turned and we saw his profile he appeared to be 8-months pregnant. Rick and I will have a laugh when reading this, I don't care what the rest of you think.

Our 11th bar in reverse order (you can see how quickly the day got out of hand), is Harry Caray's, #127. Our business cards are strategically placed in the edge of roughly 8 or 9 framed photos on the wall. Strangers are now reading this blog. We're drinking Goose Island Harvest Ales, eating a late afternoon lunch, possibly an early dinner. Here's the thing, Harry Caray's, when you advertise the very high quality of your burgers made with Wagyu beef, don't drown out the taste of the meat with crappy pretzel buns that completely overshadow every other flavor. High End Bar Menu FAIL.
A meandering discussion about Mormon's and drinking laws and states that don't allow liquor sales on sundays, or bars to be open until Church is out, and several other things, leads to the following three quotes, which I won't assign names to:
"The Church has a monopoly on Sunday morning drinking!"
"I've never had sex sober, what's that like?"
"No! Thick-hot, not Heavy-hot."

Joe, Rick and I for the life of us can't come up with the name of Vince Offer's other hawked product (outside of the Shamwow!). Joe, "I just youtubed searched 'Chop Nuts'." Slap Nuts? Chop Nuts? SlapChop! Wikipedia tells us Vince is 45 years old. Years ago I had a friend who always claimed Drew Carey was in his 70's.
Unrelated to anything that happened at Harry Caray's, but just something that came up because everyone in attendance was also at the Gay Pride Parade drinking party and had some of "Kyle's Koolaid Concoction", which at times featured some or all of whiskey, vodka, tequila, rum:
"Hawaiian Punch will kill off the flavor of anything."

Finally, our recap ends and our day began at The Yard, #126. We're there to watch the Illini game, it's an Illini bar, and the Illini are prompty getting their asses kicked. Joe and I discuss the houseboat menu (which I'm leaving for in about 45 minutes and have yet to finalize 3 days of meals for). We have a $9 pitcher of Bud Light. Aaron joins us for this bar and this bar only because he's heading out to meet his wife while she gets another tattoo. Internet Celebrity Baumer wants to know if she's getting a japanese body suit. We're all pretty sure she isn't.
As the Illini performance gets worse and worse, the group of hardcore Illini fans at the end of the bar get rowdier and rowdier. They're chanting something over and over, it probably has something to do with drinking games. Their obnoxiousness has taken over the atmosphere of the bar. Strangely, two of them take their shirts off.
Quote Rick, "OK, dudes are taking their shirts off. Time to leave." Foreshadow much?


So after a day in which we shatter our previous record of 9 bars in one outing, I'm just happy to be alive and able to recollect as much as possible. Our list of bars to go is somewhere between 40 and 60. What has at times felt very much like a chore and an burden we shouldn't have chosen now begins to seem like something we'll definitely be able to wrap up before the year is out. We're distance runners, and nothing motivates us like the pull of the finish line. I can sense it growing closer. We'll be posting the complete list of what remains in the next week or so, and if you want to reserve attendance at any of them let us know, we'll plan that out. Coming soon: a recap of the world's largest beer garden (Wrigley Field).

What's mine is yours, Kessler.