Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where would I be? I'd be a Warrior, a Warrior

First, lets do the numbers ( it's reverse of how NPR does it, but this isn't NPR).

Some stats, we're 8.3% of the way through the year and we've hit roughly 14% of the bars on our list already. This is good news, as free weekends will be few and far between as the days begin to warm up this spring and summer. I doubt we'll have back-to-back Saturdays with 8 bars each again this year. Concerts, weddings, races, vacations and common sense will start getting in the way. We'd like to thank those of you who have helped us so far along the way: both of my brothers - for their encouragement and suggestions; Derek - who acts as our unpaid consultant; Hall - for always managing to stay classy; Annie - for not telling us that this is a ridiculous idea.

As promised -- the January Leaderboard!

We have a four way tie for 3rd place -- visiting all of 6 bars with us...Selfy, Isler, Costello & Chenoweth! Congrats fellas. You will get complementary EBONY matchbooks. They're in the mail, probably lost. Call your post office to check up on 'em.

Coming in second place, with an impressive showing of 10 bars and already the clubhouse leader with multiple entries into the EmptyBlogOfNothing Quote Hall of Fame...Hall! Way to go Halljams. Best of luck in the Boston Marathon if you manage to keep this pace up.

No big surprise on the winner here if you've been following our trials and tribulations...but it's a huge shock to us considering we didn't even know this guy until after we had visited our first bar of the year. Coming in with a grand total of 13 bars (would've been 14 if he had spent more time at Rose's)...Internet Celebrity Baumer! I'm not making this up when I say the monthly superfan will probably end up with an EmptyBlogOfNothing t-shirt once I get them made. The rest of you will have to pay.

So there you go...the gauntlet has been thrown. If you want the spoils of February start showing up.

And finally, a plea.

We'd like to think that during these times of economic hardship our mission at EBONY is acting as a local micro-economic stimulus package, however minute it might be. We're doing what we can with our expendable income to pump it back into our local surroundings, recirculating the monetary funds to support those who provide us with entertainment and liver damage. It's important that we, as Americans, support our local watering holes -- even if you do have 170 of them. If your streetcorner tavern shuts it's doors the battle will surely be lost, surrendered to the evil forces of corruption and all that is wrong with the world. Now, not every bar I enter is going to agree completely with me, but that's what the free market is for. Through diversity we achieve great things, our differences will unite us. There are enough of us here to drink the available spirits, and there are enough different bars to house all of us. So to you -- the preps & punks, young & old, gay & straight, country & western, alkies & winos, cubs & sox, the carnivores & herbivores, the bluetools, the young professionals, the unemployed, the underemployed, hooligans & beatniks, club kids, pool sharks, and karaoke stars -- venture out of your homes, don't drink in solitude by the fireplace! The cold bleakness of winter cannot be battled alone -- it must be fought with your comrades. Do not go softly into the gray recession, we must fight it together side by side, barstool by barstool, pint to pint! Raise your glasses and sing together -- we shall overcome! We, the denizens of the night, the drinkers of the day, the champions of the club! The Masters of Consumption and Double-Shots for Everyone! Forty-thousand, counting affiliates, and twenty-thousand more, not organized, but ready to drink: 60,000 soldiers! CAN YOU DIG IT???!!!

We are still here! Today, let us send a message to that army. Tonight, let us shake this cave. Tonight, let us tremble these halls of earth, steel, and stone, let us be heard from red core to black sky. Tonight, let us make them remember, THIS IS ZION AND WE ARE NOT AFRAID! a little carried away there. Drink responsibly and make sure you can walk home. Shake that cave.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And I'll Be Happy In My Dreams

Saturday's are becoming routine...the Old Man Track Club runs in the morning, we eat a late lunch and then do nothing for several hours before starting the weekly bar crawl to knock off as many locales as possible.

First to Sheffields, a bar I unfavorably group with the rest of the cookie cutter joints (kirkwood, schoolyard, redmond's, all of wrigleyville). Sheffield's serves BBQ and has a great beer list, I should hold it in a much higher esteem. I had the Three Floyd's Black Sun Stout and New Holland Buddy's Favorite. We're joined by EBONY newcomers BSwerve, Will and Rob. Tasteless jokes helped to pass the time. The Illini were handling the Badgers.

Second stop on the day is Redmond's...which happens to be a Wisconsin bar. The place is packed with fans about to see their team finish a lackluster performance. BSwerve has ditched us for a wine tasting party. Hearing MIA's "Paper Planes" here secures the complete and total saturation of that song in the world. What'd that take, about 18 months for everyone to get on board? A quick Budweiser and we're out.

Unlucky Bucky

We walk into an entirely empty Risque Cafe. This is a somewhat newer place that hasn't seemed to catch any sort of following, which is shocking. Our waitress is reading Vice magazine by herself...she says she's read it cover to cover 3x already. Before we showed up the only other customer they've had all day was her roommate. I have a good feeling we'll end up having to come back here before the year is over when it's been reopened under a different name. Her shift ends and she's replaced by another guy who we discover is a Sox fan. So 5 fans of the southside are now the only people in this Wrigleyville bar. I played Roy Orbison on the jukebox and for some reason this angered Rick.

Johnny O'Hagan's is an Irish corner bar underneath the El tracks. Guinness is $5.50 and this is appalling...I yearn once again for the simplicity of Trinity where everything I desire costs $3. Hall joins us here after being absent for a week. He claims he didn't actually go to see Twilight this afternoon but I suspect he's lying to us. I bet he loved it.

L & L Tavern, site of the inception of the EmptyBlogOfNothing, is our 5th stop on the night. Hall has the quote of the night, "Are you guys purposefully excluding bars that girls go to?"

L & L, everything you need

Annie and a bunch of friends show up, Shiner Bock is the beer of the month. I was here with my brothers once and the Beer of the Month chalkboard listed something I'd never had before. I ordered "3 beers of the month" and was alarmed when the bartender gave me 3 bottles of Labatt's. I took these back to my brothers and explained how glad I was that I didn't actually try to order "three Labah's".

Our last stop of the evening involves a very crowded Mad River for Costello's birthday party. In attendance: Isler, Costello, Jenni, Hall, Rob, Robert, Abby, Ream, KD, Ashley, Kelly, Clark(!), Krystal, Bode, Wehrmanx2, Holland+1, Annie & her crew. I'm pretty sure I dropped at least 4 different girls while dancing with them. Much beer is consumed...Sunday morning hurts.

make it rain!

For knocking only 6 bars off the list yesterday, this was probably the most Kyle and I have had to drink for an EBONY event, so needless to say today was a pretty lazy day. Official welcomes go out to Annie, Lazicki, BSwerve and Chenoweth for making it out with us. I'm only including these four as they made it out to at least 2 bars with us yesterday. Soon enough we'll have a ranking system up on the blog for who has made it to the most bars with us. Baumer, don't worry, you're easily in the lead at 13. When telling Hall this, he said "Baumer will be writing the blog by October." As for other top quotes of the day, these were in the notebook (others were taken down, but I'm embarrassed to post them on the internet):

"Where do you think we are, Wicker Park? We don't serve PBR around here." - bartender at Redmond's, probably my least favorite bar in the city
"For having 20 beers on tap, they have one of the worst selections ever." - Chenoweth
"....Silverado!" - Hall
"It's a defect, not a disease."
"I want hetero sex."

Best (and only) ChaCha response of the day: "The Rolling Stones song "Play With Fire" is that song that is beautifully done in Darjeeling Limited."
Best Text Response: "Tell Hall to quit his whining." - Holland

Friday, January 23, 2009

there's a new holland?

Not much to add from last night. The most entertaining portion of the evening was at Brendan's listening to two dudes at the bar discuss how large their vocabulary is...yes vocabulary. One went on to say, "Her vocabulary by nature is large, and that's what turns me on to her." They then went on to playfully pet and and what sounded/looked like flirting with one another. Our bets are that he really isn't attracted to her. The specials there were $3 MGD and $2.50 High Lifes...we went with Smithwicks. Albeit, we did close out the evening with an Old Style at Dram Shop.  I only hope the new Old Style recipe that is coming out is as good as the new Schlitz.

And for some shameless promotions, look to your right and you can see the map of our google mash-up of all the bars within a mile radius of the 837. Also log on to Facebook and join the EBONY (its our new acronym, Empty Blog of Nothing, Yo!) fan page, link is to the right.

You call me a fool, you say it's a crazy scheme

Our first weeknight excursion of '09, and it included 3 bars we've never been to before.

Brendan's, which refers to itself as the "#1 Red Sox Bar in Chicago" was broadcasting 97.1fm The Drive with poor staticy reception. Beer of the Month? Milller Hi-Life. We didn't order those. Rick will have more to say about the man sitting next to us at the bar. My only quote from him is, "...and of course I only search for the perfectly cromulent word." Emphasis his.
Photos from this evening are very still life.

Down the street to Wilde, which would have to be my favorite bar so far on the year that I had never been to before. Just expecting an overpriced fancy pants bar we're greeted with a list of somewhat local (nearby states) microbrews currently available. Music was good, the people didn't seem too pretentious. Yes, the beers are more expensive here, but they're also BETTER. Tried both "The Poet" (tremendously strong dark chocolate flavor, very rich) and the Breck Brewery Vanilla Porter. The Vanilla Porter has about 3 seconds too much vanilla in it.

Third, and last stop, of the night: Dram Shop. Didn't know this place existed despite running by this intersection just about every time I go for a run. That either says I'm not running enough or this place is a hole in the wall. Probably both. Drinking Old Style (a severe palate shock after switching from the VP), listening to Steely Dan for the second time tonight, deciding I will probably never return to the Dram Shop. If I want a dive bar I'll choose one that doesn't have plywood on the walls and what seemed like a heater that wasn't working. They've got a name for the winners in the world, and they don't hang out here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

With my Walkman tucked inside my forearm

No bar updates from this weekend, Rick's out of town. We almost hit up Schubas on Wednesday night for one of the Tomorrow Never Knows shows, but there's an unwritten rule at the emptyblogofnothing that we won't ever use cabs for transportation during the challenge. You see, it was -9 out, and Schubas is roughly 7 blocks away. So apologies to Bear Hands, The Republic Tigers, DJ Stv Slv and anyone else who was on the bill.

As you can see I've added a relatively boring poll over here to the right --->
Odds are we won't respect the wishes of our readers and we'll go to whatever bar we feel like, but vote anyway! It's fun and exciting and a whole new level of interactivity!

I'm searching around the internets for a good 3 column template to use for our layout so we can put things like Authors, the Rolling Playlist, and Archives over here <---- and then things like Links, the Poll, Followers, etc over here ---->. So far everything I've found has flowers on it. I'll keep searching.

And as just mentioned -- the rolling playlist...that's another thing I added. We'll try to keep up with updating songs on the list as they are referenced throughout these writings. Note: I didn't add DMX's "School Street" because it's terrible. And because he's in jail. Crack is whack.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

And if you say run, I'll run with you

The day began strangely -- we witnessed what almost escalated into a parking lot fight at the drive thru of the Chase across the street. An older man (maybe mid-60s?) was screaming at the top of his lungs at a similarly aged couple who had their dog with them. I quote, "I said I'm sorry!! WHY ARE YOU TREATING ME LIKE I'M A %&*$ING CRIMINAL!!!" This continued for 30-40 seconds. We couldn't really figure out what happened but eventually they must've figured out it was a beautiful snowy winter day in Chicago and they should enjoy it instead of spending time shouting at each other in a parking lot.

So we continued to The Union, a Big Ten sports bar. Walking in we were greeted by an empty room and a dog loudly barking at us. Of the 7 people in the bar we were the only paying customers and the only 2 who were not friends of the owner. I ordered a Blue Moon (without the orange, I don't need fruit in my beer), and was quickly reminded that I don't actually like Blue Moon. Jimmy Buffet's greatest hits album was playing on a loop. That I was able to detect this should signal that we spent too much time at The Union.

Heading south to the Irish Corner, (Halsted & Diversey, a title I've only bestowed upon that intersection just now as I type this) we stopped into Harrigans to meet some friends. This is your standard Irish bar, nothing spectacular about it. The bartender struggled with a coffee machine for several seconds (and actually called someone on the phone for assistance) before serving us a few glasses of strangely priced Three Floyd's Alpha King. There was no music playing, just the broadcast feed of the first NFL playoff game today. We were soon joined by Internet Celebrity Baumer, a sick-yet-still-visionary Holland, and the surprise arrival of Costello and Isler.

Needing food we hit another member bar of the Irish Corner, Trinity. Trinity has $3 Guinness...ALL THE TIME. We picked the right day and the right bar to hit up for food -- cheeseburgers were also on special for $3. These aren't the thin patty mini burger almost sliders they have on special at The Northpark Tap (extra $1 for cheese), these are real standard sized cheeseburgers that come with a large serving of waffle fries. I ate two of them.

Friend of the Blog Selfy eventually showed up, making his first of what will be many mentions in these pages. Laura, our bartender who looks a little like Alison Lohman (pictured), pretended to be interested in our conversations...conversations that included Isler's claim that he could walk across the United States in 2 weeks.

Heading south again we walked into a sparsely populated Victory Liquors. This is a Notre Dame bar that replaced former pool hall The Corner Pocket. Our reserved VIP area (it wasn't a reserved VIP area) featured one of those Boxer machines. Basically these things are an easy way to rid a group of competitive males of the singles in their wallets without employing poles, women or a bad dj. For the low low price of a dollar bill you get one punch on the speed bag, the power of your punch is displayed. Top to bottom, our rankings: Selfy, Costello, Kyle, Ricky, Isler, Internet Celebrity Baumer

A group of meatheads showed up and quickly put about $10 into the of them claiming he held the record on the machine at another bar. He never came close to the record on this one. Also, there's a video of Costello head-butting the boxing bag that'll be uploaded eventually (check the facebook page linked below). His score after the forehead impact was significantly lower than any of our punching results, leading to a discussion of the usefulness of the headbutt in combat (pro - suprise, useful in close quarters; con - headache).

The Grand Central is across the street from where we used to live. We used to hit up the All-You-Can-Eat brunch buffet here on the weekends after winter long runs, then they raised the price (presumably because 8 skinny runners would show up every weekend and each fill 5 plates worth of food...but probably not).
Rick and our waitress had the following exchange:
What's your name?
With a K or a J?
With a Y.

The GC is also the place that caused the end of a previous brief relationship for Selfy. The message she left him, in reference to a night spent at the GC, "It's your dancing. It's all over the place and it's not good."

So speaking of dancing, we're greeted with David Bowie upon our entrance to Chi-Town Tap. Based on the acquaintance that Internet Celebrity Baumer was trying to make it was apparent that the spoils of this bar crawl were affecting him far more than the rest of us. Whoever pumped some money into the jukebox gave us a surprisingly good run of tunes (Interpol, Radiohead, Kings of Leon, Ramones, Strokes). The tall glasses of Bass were on special here for $3. For reasons unknown, Isler remarks, "On a scale of 1 to 10, you guys are sweet!"

Rose Bar is possibly the best dive bar in Chicago (The Queen of Dive bars, maybe?). Really, there's little to no effort put forth's a haphazard collection of mismatched furniture, glasses and patrons. If you order 3 of the same beer there's a good chance you'll get 3 different glasses. An older man drinking by himself broke into The Music Man's "Ya Got Trouble" when we walked in the door. Internet Celebrity Baumer showed up late, announced that "it smells like body odor in here" and we left.

Strangely enough, this was on the wall at Rose Bar, not Delilah's

For our last stop, Selfy, Rick, Internet Celebrity Baumer and I hit up one of our favorite places in Chicago (bar or otherwise), Delilah's. There's always an interesting crowd, a superb selection of drinks, great music (be it a themed night or just the jukebox), strange things playing on the televisions (old Batman episodes in this case), and the art on the walls is for sale and frequently changes (a selection of Elvis paintings tonight). I wish I had remembered to take a picture of their sign out front...oh well, I'll be back here again. The Batman episode must've been a good one -- top tier criminals The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin and Catwoman were all featured. I don't know how often this happened in the series, but it must've been significant. Somehow I put $5 into the jukebox at 9:30 and my songs immediately began. This will probably never happen again.

Thanks to the idea of sick visionary Holland, we've put together a Facebook group that'll house more pictures, comments, etc. You can find it HERE

what's your malfunction besides alcohol?

i'll leave the full recap to Kyle, but here are my brief notes from last night:

The Union:

- the owner smoking inside the bar, the owners dog named Caesar hangs out in the bar, watching the Illini Alumni basketball game and not seeing Damir Krupalija


- "blogs by nature are full of nothing, and yours actually acknowledges it." - Holland


- Laura, our bartender being very impressed w/ our resolution - you better be reading this!, and Kyle telling her he can get her running shoes if she wanted any

Victory Liquors:

- taking on the punching bag machine and seeing Baumer not doing much better than Costello head butting it

Grand Central:

- Kyle, Selfy and myself going to our old apartment to see our neighbors dog Hercules, only to learn they moved and Kyle telling the new tenant "You ruined our fun"

-throwing tater tots

Chi-Town Tap:

- nothing too out of the ordinary here, just Baumer putting more effort than necessary on to his new friend

Rose Bar:

- noticing in a single glance that there are at least 11 different types of chairs in this bar


- drinking some Changs, and me burping it up 14 hours later on my run.

so far we have accomplished our January quota, so we're off to a good pace - which helps since i'll be out of town next weekend, although the following weekend is my birthday, so i'm sure a handful will be crossed off then.

Friday, January 9, 2009


You could say it's been a productively unproductive week at the emptyblogofnothing. The 8 bars knocked off our list last week have been overshadowed by the 10 or so that were added.
Anyway, the as-of-now complete list of 164 is below. These seem to be where we belong:

3160 N. Clark (Annex 3)
404 Wine Bar
930 Lounge (Clarke’s)
Alive One
Baby Atlas
Bar Louie
Big City Tap
Blarney Stone
Bobby Love’s
Bourbon on Lincoln
Brendan’s Pub
Bridget McNeills
Buck’s Saloon
Buffalo Wild Wings
Bungalow Bar
Burwood Tap
Casey Moran’s
Cell Block
Chi Town Tap
Clark Street Dogs
Coach House
Crossroads Public House
Cubby Bear
Darkhorse Tap
Déjà Vu
DOC Wine Bar
Draft Tavern & Grille (soon to open, replacing Mix)
Duke of Perth
Elbo Room
Exedus II
Fearon’s Public House
Fion Wine & Spirits
Fly Me to the Moon
Forno Diablo
Four Shadows
Friar Tuck
Full Schilling
Galway Arms
Goose Island
Grand River
Halsted's Bar & Grill
Harry Caray’s
Hidden Shamrock
Higgin's Tavern
Houndstooth Saloon
House of Hookah Lounge
Irish Eyes
Irish Oak
Jack’s Bar & Grill
Jake’s Pub
Joe’s on Broadway
John Barleycorn's Wrigleyville
Johnny O’Hagan’s
Kingston Mines
Kit Kat Lounge
L & L Tavern
Lakeview Broadcasting Company
Lange's Lounge
Las Fuentas
Lincoln Station
Little Jim’s
Mad River
Mini Bar
Moe’s Cantina
Monsignor Murphy’s
Murphy’s Bleachers
Mystic Celt
Newport Bar & Grill
Nisei Lounge
North End
Ole Lounge
Paddy Long’s
Patsy’s Place
Rebel Bar & Grill
Red Ivy
Risque Café
Rose's Lounge
Schoolyard Tavern
Seven Ten Lounge
Side Street Saloon
Smart Bar
Soiree Bar & Lounge
SoPo Lounge & Grill
Southport City Saloon
Southport Lanes
The Avenue Tavern
The Blue Iguana
The Central
The Closet
The Field House
The Gingerman
The Grand Central
The Other Side
The Pony Inn
The Sidetrack
The Spread
The Tin Lizzie
The Trace
The Union
The Wild Hare
The Yard
Tonic Room
Town Hall Pub
Trader Todd’s
Uncle Fatty’s
Underground Lounge
Vaughan’s Pub
Victory Liquors
Will’s Northwoods Inn
Wrightwood Tap
Yak-zies (Clark)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Parrots That Talk

This title makes no sense, please disregard it.

The Schoolyard (named due to it's location, on School Street) has a promotion called "Riding The Rail", if you drink 12 different drafts and get your list checked off at the bar you get a t-shirt. If I ran a bar and had a promo like that I'd probably have to kick a lot of people out. School Street, School Street, home of the brave.

They also have a framed painting of Elvis above their fireplace, which led to the discussion of what icon you would put above your fireplace. answer: Gilbert Arenas


Theoretically we should have bowled while at Southport Lanes, because that's what you do there. Unfortunately there's a long wait for one of the 2 lanes and there always seems to be a family of 9 with several small children occupying the place. Also, a previous outing to Southport featured the "worst billiards game of all-time", so that place will forever be cursed in terms of bar skill contests. Their menu is the same as the one at The Daily in Lincoln Square (and probably a few other places). The Honeymooner is delicious.

While at the Newport an older man with graying hair missed his stool when he attempted to seat himself and ended up on the floor. Several people laughed, much to the dismay and anger of the girl with him. We never could decide if she was his daughter or girlfriend.

I didn't know Lange's existed until last night. Baumer purchased a raffle ticket for one of those must-be-present-to-win drawings. We had zero intention of attending the raffle drawing and he knew this, which is why you should always have pretty girls selling the tickets.

The Gingerman probably has one of the 5 best jukeboxes in the city of chicago.

Unrelated to anything: I wonder if the dry cleaners are disgusted with me when i stop in wearing torn jeans.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

8 down, 160 to go

this is the midnight abridged version. we called our partner in crime in Hall to meet us at the Schoolyard Tap for the inaugural drink. after a packed house of pub crawlers we ditched this popsicle stand and ran into Baum and his buddy and proceeded to knock a couple bars out - Southport Lanes, Lange's, and our always favorite Newport Bar & Grill (minus Ugly Betty to Hall's avail). to our surprise, the pub crawlers seemed to follow us (including an old man who smelled like sausages), so we had to ditch that route and hit up one of our favorite chill places in the Gingerman. as usual, the place was dead, but with an amazing set of LCD Soundsystem, Ryan Adams (Hall's gay lover), and the Shout Out Louds on the Juke-box. Baumer was getting bored, so headed out after a Newcastle and sadly went to Casey Morans (we had to go at somepoint). at this point we needed to ditch the Wrigleyville vibe, so we tried our best and crossed the street to the Irish Oak. after an hour of waiting for the magical wings and downing Carlsburg, we headed for our final destination of the Darkhorse. here we watched Kyle watch his Colts blow a lead late in the 4th quarter and drown his sorrows in a couple Miller Lites and quote, "Let's gets surly right now and go dancing!". Hall and I thought Kyle was going to break some guys head, so in a wise decision, we decided to bail and call it a night. overall, not bad for the inaugural evening - 8 bars down and plenty to go.