Friday, May 29, 2009

Living In Sin, Cause It Helps Me Pretend

There's a good chance this will turn into one of those weeks where I see more bands playing live music than there are official EBONY bar visits.
Through Friday morning we have 3 in the left column, zero in the right. That's not saying I haven't been to any bars this week, I just haven't been to any bars with Rick around. Taking our roles seriously as economic stimulators, Rick is in Mexico attempting to right some tourism wrongs after the H1N1 tore up their visitation numbers. Perhaps we'll get back on the Surly Bus once he returns this weekend.

Without bars to report on, we can at least get some housekeeping out of the way. The leaderboard hasn't been discussed since February, if I recall correctly.
So March featured 18 total bars and the entire podium was made up of former members of the 907. I've never been more proud (Lies. I've many times been more proud). The counts weren't too high, but totals for Jason and Jason were 5 each, and Tim/Peter/Leroy/Chuck takes first place with 7. T-shirts pending.

April was a slow month, as previously reported in the chronicle of these chronicles. Ten total bars, and only 2 people had more than one appearance. Half-hearted thanks to Hall for gracing us with his attendance at 2 bars (those were his epic performances of misery and annoyance at Mystic Celt and Metro before he finally went home). Larger thanks, once again, to Tim/Peter/Leroy/Chuck (one person) for showing up and sharing drinks with us at five bars. Two months in a row for the God of Skinny Little Punks.

Onto May...which will be wrapping up on Sunday. Thanks to the BBC we've got some surprise new blood near the top of the charts. With first place still undecided at this point, those over five through 5/28 are: Hall (5), Ream (5), Carolyn D (5), Ashley (6), KD (7), Abby (7), Tim/Peter/Leroy/Chuck (7). And Down The Stretch They Come!

Now to the overall totals, where the 2009 champion earns our lifelong admiration and maybe a custom-designed button.
Currently standing in seventh, someone who five years ago would probably have been to all 91 with Rick and I -- Rob at a measly 11. Man up, Rob.
A slightly higher number in sixth place, our independent creative consultant (who hasn't been earning his title lately), Derek. Derek, you used to be an Idea Man.
Number five on our list, number 4,793 in our hearts, and the provider of much amusement with his oft-misguided bar antics...Adam with 13. Stay gold, Ponyboy.
Missing a podium spot by one place but a handful of bars off pace, the forever imitated, never duplicated, hilariously intoxicated, undefeated and reigning champion of the Chicago Bar Dance Off, the very healthy and disease-free man standing by the bar...Selfy with 14.
Third place, someone who probably would've been the pre-year favorite to take the EBONY 3rd Wheel Championship (and he's still got a good shot at it...), author of our favorite and most nonsensical incoming texts and wall posts (sorry Craig), the Twilight loving Hall with 17.
Current Runner-up, only two away from being the pack leader after five months, the man with 19 bars attended and four first names. By far my favorite single-serving friend. That's very clever. Thank You. How's that working out for you, being clever? Okay, I guess. Well then, keep it right up. Tim/Peter/Leroy/Chuck, keep it right up. Now, just one question remains...

Our leader in the clubhouse? He needs no introduction but he'll get one. You know him, you love him, your favorite and our friend -- Internet Celebrity Baumer! 21 visits to alcohol serving establishments with Rick and I over the last 5 months. Well Met, Baumer.

Thanks for reading this review of numbers that really don't mean anything at all in the grand scheme of things.
If there's a weekend recap after the last 2 days of May we might have a guest author...stay tuned. See you kids on the streets. Bring your friend and his green hat.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Older Than I Once Was, Younger Than I'll Be

Since we've decided to classify the Lakeshore Theater as a bar (ed note: Adam - 41.9395794, -87.6443687) our count has been slightly adjusted. In defense of the LT's inclusion -- they do occassionally offer up free tickets for unsoldout shows in hopes that people will simply show up to spend money on liquor. Hence, Lakeshore Theater and Todd Barry's performance is #83.

Now onto our May(n) event, The BBC. I have a lot of really great friends and a terrific family (the real one and the "Chicago" one), and a good number of them managed to come hang out with us on Saturday for a drink or two or twenty. My sincerest thanks to all of you (whether you found time to make it or not). I'm not someone who puts much thought or contemplation into my birthday every year, it's not something I consider to be very monumental. People invariably ask me what I want for my birthday, and my thoughts drift to all of the crap I already have cluttering my living space...I don't exactly want more of that. So all I really ask for, year in and year out, is that the people who make me smile and who's relationships I value are similarly able to enjoy themselves. I'd like to think we accomplished that. So enough w/ the reflections, on to the Birthday Bar Crawl recap.

Mickey's (#84) is our first stop. Figuring the weather would be unpredictable it was my idea to get the outdoor drinking out of the way first. They've got a huge patio here that's open year round thanks to the wonders of modern deck manufacturing. Roughly 9 bottles were on the menu's beer list and they were out of half of them. Rick and I start the festivities off with Amstel Lights at 2:14pm. Our waitress reminded us of the unabletosmilegirl from Fearon's earlier this year until we saw her interacting with an infant and Rick noticed a hint of inclined grinning. Both the Cubs and the Sox would blow late leads while we drank at Mickey's, only the Cubs would end up prevailing. This subsequently reminds me that "Go, Cubs, Go" is the Miller Chill of Victory Songs (ie, the worst). Mini Turkey Corndogs are consumed and the outdoor patio is great for people watching on a sunny Clark Ave day. Mickey's has a very disgusting bathroom that redeems itself with an above-urinal advertisement for our friend Joe's latest creation, The Warrior Dash.

Heading across the street to The Field House (#85) we're greeted by our first fellow revelers in The BBC -- Abby, Kelly & Kathryn (who flew in from NYC just for this ocassion). I bet Rick $1 that we'd end up with 9 or more crawlers before leaving the Field House...thanks to the arrival of Kathy, Carolyn, Melissa & Ashley I'm a dollar richer.

Also arriving to put the bet out of reach are Selfy, Tim (celebrating his ACTUAL birthday), Annie, Akita, and friends of T&A. Kate and I split a $5 entry into the bar Preakness pool which proves unprofitable (damn you, Luv Gov!). My first birthday shot of whiskey goes down smoothly.

Also of note: The Field House was the fourth bar we've been to this year with a dog present.

Rather than attempting to list out who came & went the rest of the day for each of the remaining 4 bars, I'll just list as many of the others as I can remember: Robert, Sarah, Ream, Martineau, Carolyn, Brent, Brent's Brother, Derek, Eickhoff, Bode, Matt, Internet Celebrity Baumer, Allie, Michelle, Dustin, Kafel, Kafel's friends, Nancy, Becky, and probably a handful I can't recollect several days later.

So Duke's (#86) is actually a pretty great place, and the perfect site for some food. Without the menu I knew I was getting a Bleu Cheeseburger w/ Grilled Onions. This most definitely hit the spot. Brent, for reasons unknown, remarks, "Actually, I'm kind of addicted to Gossip Girl. It's a really good show." Eickhoff, always misbelieving that our music tastes line up exactly on, keeps pointing out to me how (not) perfect their sound selection is at Duke's. It was ok, probably a little above average.

Sarah is wearing the t-shirt of the day - "Afternoon Delight" - which pictures a couple of unicorns forming the beast with two backs in front of a rainbow. Matt buys me my second birthday shot of whiskey. Moving on...

Crossroads (#87)...well, they had $5 pitchers. But the place, eh, how do I put this? I'll just go with Ashley's review, "...And let's be real, this bar really isn't that great." A bunch of my idiot friends play quarters (causing the recently arrived Internet Celebrity Baumer to quickly advance his levels of intoxication). Martineau tries to tap out of quarters in order for me to take his seat. I'm not buying. The rowdy table also attempts a power hour.

A big EBONY Thank You to Baumer for making up for a 4 month absence from these chronicles. Your legion of fans had missed you. WTF moment of the day: Crossroad's (a generic lowest common denominator frathouse bar with cheap drinks and no character...really, $5 pitchers?) has a bathroom attendant.

Quoth The Akita: I am 100% confident I will win the Summer Beer Mile* (7/11/09)

Ream determines that what had been loosely referred to as "Kylefest" has been redubbed "Kylepalooza". This is obviously before I rechristened it The BBC. Also at Duke's I began making illustrations instead of just notes in my official EBONY notebook. The additions? My fabulous Venn Diagram about Women and Problems, the cartoon entitled "No Place For A Paper Airplane in a Green Society", and a map I drew upsidedown illustrating how long it takes my younger brother to travel from Crested Butte, CO to either Chicago or Aspen. This notebook will certainly be going up on Ebay at the end of '09.

Now off to Goodbar (#88)! Better music, lots of dancing. We go into our customary "dance club" game of assigning everyone an artist and requiring them to dominate the floor while said artist is played. I, as usual, shoulder the burden of Michael Jackson...which is no match for Selfy's dominating footwork when Timberlake blasts through the speakers. Michelle & Dustin arrive, fresh off a nearby concert. Through the magic of poorly-lit nitelife, the bartending staff seems to think Michelle's concert wristband is the same color as the Goodbar "all you can drink" wristband...thus further enabling the deterioration of my motor skills via alcohol. One car bomb, a couple redbull/vodkas, a few more beers...

Last stop on the evening (aside from obligatory late night mexican food) our second and more successful attempt to visit The Tonic Room (#89). I failed to register any notes from TTR, mostly due to the late hour and my general state of unwell-being. Everyone made it home alive, ready to start 365 days of training before the next BBC.

*the summer beer mile may or may not be a fictional activity (presented by the OMTC)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Odds and Ends

I’ll fill in the odds and ends of the weekend not including BBC/Kylepalooza. Friday night we saw Todd Barry perform at the Lakeshore Theatre. Todd is famous for his extreme stoic/dry sense of humor. He absolutely killed and broke glass at the same time. He has an amazing ability to roll with the punches in performing ad-libs back to obnoxious audience members/hecklers. The stand-up routine was top notch too; check out YouTube for some of previous skits. You may have seen him in the The Wrestler, or in last seasons Flight of the Concords. On special, Lakeshore had 22oz Goose Island Matilda’s for $10 – this increased the comedy tenfold. For how good the show was, the quote of the evening comes from Kyle telling the dude waiting in line behind us after his friend cuts to the front, “apparently your friend thinks he better than all of us.” The expression on his face was priceless.

Sunday was a rougher morning for some of us than others. I think I heard from at least 3 EBONY fan club members that they either threw-up last night or early this morning – nice job kids. The Internet Celebrity Baumer met us at Justin’s in the early afternoon to catch the Hawks game. In a very uneventful Game 1, we nursed a couple Buds and headed back home to recover from Saturday. A few hours later we went over to the DOC Wine Bar for CarolynFest. Too many friends were here to mention, but the full friends ranking list is updated. Message us if we screwed up somewhere as some nights become foggy. I think it is safe to say I am never going to the bar again. It had absolutely the worst service we have experience all year. Yes, there were a good 25 people in the backroom for the birthday gathering, but that is no excuse to wait 50 minutes for a glass of wine! Fucking ridiculous. Carolyn II mentioned to me that she is stealing my patented dance move from last night with giving me no future credit at all. My immediate response was, “well, you can go to Hell.” I think it was adequate in its brevity.

So far we have crossed 91 bars off the list – well above are quota of 75 thru May. We figure we have about 100 left to tackle. If you include bars outside of the mile radius, our total count (bars were Kyle and I are both there) is up to 119. I don’t know if I’m proud or extremely sad with myself.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ready for the Floor

Our sincerest apologies to the devoted readers of EBONY for this brief hiatus in posting. As anticipated, life has more distractions as the weater warms up and people get out of their 4 walls. Our inital goal was to update this thing at least 2x a week, whether it be bar writing or just random rambling.
Wednesday was an opportunity to visit bar #82 on the year, Cesar's on Clark...aka "Killer Margaritas".

Meeting up with Ream and Robert, killer margaritas was exactly what we had. The "mega" ones are $10 and pretty gigantic. 2 of those were enough. We told a lot of stupid jokes, and the manager came over once to check on me and ask if I was "ok" after one particularly loud punchline. Sarah joined us eventually, which was much appreciated because I grew tired of being the only one who can tell a good story.

Not much else to add from this one, especially since i'm writing this after yesterday's BBC (Birthday Bar Crawl) and the Blackhawks-Red Wings game is about to start. Go Hawks!

More to be written later about bars 82-88 and the triumphant return of Internet Celebrity Baumer.

Unrelated to anything - I almost threw up today while walking down the alley by my apartment because the garbage smelled so awful. Things I didn't miss all winter: Hot Trash.

Sayin' prayers and drinking to world peace,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

You Got The Money. We Got The Soul

Prior to recapping Saturday I need to add a couple of notes from last weekend's Roadhouse 66/Sox game.
Annie, asked by Rick if she prefers watching baseball or track & field (the two sports generally gracing our television), "Track & Field. I didn't even have to think about that."
And one more comment from the bachelorette 3 rows in front of us when ordering her hot dog, "I only want mustard because ketchup is stupid!" Perhaps the only moment when I didn't view her with disdain.

Now on to Saturday's bar crawl, featuring the return of Hall, game 7, game 2, popcorn on the floor and derby hats.
Firkin & Pheasant is a new joint on Diversey just west of Clark, next door to Matisse. It looked fairly impressive from the outside and we were looking forward to going there. This eager anticipation was replaced by unanimous letdown immediately upon entering. Carpet? Fancy booths? Big screen TVs not only playing Access Hollywood but also with the audio turned on...30 minutes before the climactic game in the greatest first round NBA playoff series ever? Did I mention the carpet? Overpriced food, unspectacular beer list, this joint is really more restaurant than watering hole.
Hall arrives and immediately makes the quote book, "This place is like a Ponderosa."
Tim arrives and also expresses his disappointment with the F&P, "This place reminds me of the Winchester from Shawn of the Dead...except for the carpeting, the booths, the lack of a pool table, no jukebox, and no rifle above the bar. Basically except for everything." Eventually they changed the audio to some generic music feed and we end with Third Eye Blind soundtracking our Fish & Chips. Tim orders the giant hotdog. It arrives:
"Oh Jesus Christ."
"That's the gayest food I've ever seen."
"Good Lord, this thing looks like a dick."

We decide Durkin's might be a good place to catch the basketball game. It wasn't a good place to catch the basketball game. Somehow Rick had never been to Durkin's before, which doesn't seem to make sense. A Kentucky Derby bar crawl had been going on earlier in the day and there's a handful of girls still around wearing their giant obnoxious hats. We move to the back room where it's less crowded and end up next to some loud guys at the bar who have probably been drunk since 1998. One of them has been cut off already. The back room TV's also aren't hi-def...whatever it is we're after isn't at Durkin's.

Leaving at halftime we head over to The Hidden Shamrock, the first good decision we made today. We're joined by a member of The Prairie Cartel, we drink some Bell's, and we watch the Bulls fail to knock off the Celtics in a somewhat anticlimactic game 7 that is redeemed by the fact that it is possibly Ben Gordon's last as a Bull. For some reason we discuss parenting skills...namely teaching any future sons to either be left-handed knuckleballers or field goal kickers. Everyone needs a retirement plan, right?

Next stop on the tour after watching the Blackhawks take revenge in game 2 of their second round series? The Burwood Tap. When we used to live at the 907 we had two great neighborhood bars in opposite directions on Wrightwood -- the Burwood Tap and the Wrightwood Tap. The Wrightwood Tap has since been remodeled and lost every ounce of character it once had -- hence we stopped visiting. Burwood, on the other hand, remains intact and has also improved significantly now that it no longer smells of cigarettes. Hall dumps a tray of popcorn on the floor and we are scolded by the back room bouncer protecting whatever super-important private party was going on. Annie joins us to make up for Tim's departure.

Another topic of discussion tonight...if you were independently wealthy would you use your money for evil? Would you use it to exploit your friends? (ala Mr. Burns in the episode where he makes Homer his monkey) If anyone was wondering, Hall definitely would. "I'll pay off your student loans if you xxxxCENSOREDxxxx."

Last stop (for EBONY at least), Tin Lizzy for a post-Wisconsin marathon celebration with some friends. I mostly just sat on the giant Red couch chair in the back waiting for us to head elsewhere. Rick and Hall left for Lincoln Square, which may or may not have been a good decision. I ended up at Baby Atlas and Big City Tap (already breaking my vow never to return there), and somehow I managed to lose one of my shirts before the night ended.

Everyone woke up alive on Sunday, so all is once again right in the world. After a weak April we're starting May off right. Not only is this my birthday month it's also American Craft Beer month at Binny's, which I appreciate and my checking account doesn't. We'll both be out of town next weekend (Mother's Day), but the following weekend will be Kyle's Birthday Bar Crawl on Saturday the 16th. List of destinations to be determined soon and probably posted here. Until then, stay thirsty my friends.