Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pride Parade, a photo blog

all photos courtesy of the great Holland

Friday, June 26, 2009

Maybe Martians Could Do Better Than We've Done?

Yet another one of those EBONY dispatches that isn't related to our EBONY mission. State, on Webster, by DePaul, by McGee's, off of Sheffield, off of Halsted, home of lots of college kids who think they know stuff. Tuesday nights, but not next Tuesday (they're remodeling), State hosts a very competitive Trivia night with an $800 prize for the first place team.

Rick had been there once before, and we had been working on finding a calendar day that would work for Team Silverado to compete again. Last time around they were told their finishing spot was "around 5th" or so. We were hungry to form a solid team that could compete again for a podium spot. What lineup did we field?

Rick, half of ebony, mathematical genius and local news wonk.
Kyle, other half of ebony, voracious consumer of worthless information.
Derek, wise learned Canadian from the north. Also a laywer.
Annie, accomplished musician, the quietly opinionated one.
Kyle's Dad, trivia pursuit master, devourer of historical nonfiction.

State is completely packed, there are 76 teams competing (each team is between 2-8 people). We are huddled into a small spot by the bar.

Round One: General Knowledge
We're feeling good about this one. Questions cover topics such as Pokeysticks, the cast of Saved by the Bell, and the land mass of New Mexico vs Nevada. Somehow we err on two of these questions and end up with 5/7. Not a great start if we want to contend for the title.

Round Two: Movies and Celebs
This one could be a toss-up. If it's tabloid-trivia we're doomed. If it's obscure indie movies we'll clean house. So the questions? Is Aaron Eckhart older than Ben Stiller? (no) What movie starred both Tommy Lee Jones & Cedric The Entertainer? (hell if I know). Who is Britney Spears engaged to? (dammit) What year did Anchorman come out? (we know this!)
Somehow we salvage a 5/8 from this round. 10 points after two rounds, not the start we were hoping for.

Up next? The LIGHTNING ROUND! "In 1:40, write down as many Matt Damon movies as you can"
Prior to the evening a few of us tried to memorize the filmography of several actors (Kathy Bates, Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, Tom Selleck, Russell Crowe, Jim Carrey, George Clooney). Obviously we guessed wrong.
So we start writing, 10 are down in a hurry. 11, 12, 13 take a little longer. 14 comes, the clock is ticking. 15 and 16 stagger in before we have to run the paper up to the score keeper. 16? Not bad, we think. Later we realize we somehow forgot The Departed, but we did at least write down Eurotrip. The winning score is announced a couple of rounds later as 22. Not far off, but definitely not a winner.

Round 3: Sports
Okay, this one might be where we make up the ground we're missing. The two questions we miss -- An athlete in what professional sport is shown on the cover of the first Sports Illustrated? (it was baseball...i won't reveal our guess). What former Chicago Bull holds the record for most 3 pt-ers made in an NBA Finals game? We immediately gravitate to either MJ (the SHRUG game against Portland?) or Steve Kerr/John Paxson. Neither were right. Congrats to Scottie Pippen.
What did we get correct? I don't even remember at this point. The ones you get right don't leave a mark on your mental pride. 5/7 in this one, 15 points.

Round 4: Baby Names
We're screwed. The MC reads the name of a celebrity baby and you have write down the mother. Somehow we salvage three (children of Gwyneth, Angelina, Nicole Richie). We don't come anywhere close on Christina Aguilera, Tea Leoni, Kate Hudson and Courtney Cox.
Later in the week I would email my mother the baby names, and she immediately replies with "I read People every week and I know every one of these."
Four rounds done, we're sitting on 18 out of a possible 29. We're screwed.

Rather than ditch on the rest of competition we stuck around to see what categories we'd need help on next time we field another Team Silverado.
Round 5: The Visual Round
A sheet of paper is passed out with 7 pictures of cookie types. You have 4 minutes to write down the name of each and turn them into the score keepers. The easy ones? Oreo, Nutter Butter, Milanos, Chips Ahoy, Fig Newtons. The one that took us until 3:30?
"Vanilla Fudge?"
"EL Fudge?"
"Fudge Round?"
"Round Striped Fudge?"
"Striped Fudge?"
"Fudge Stripes!!! WRITE IT DOWN!"
The one we never got? Dunkers. No one knows what the hell a Dunker is.

Still, 6/7 on the visual round. Not bad, we're saving some face here.

Round 6: Music
We're a little worried the absence of Halljams will hinder our performance in this one, those worries were unfounded. The MC plays an 8-10 second snippet of the beginning of the song, you need to write down both the Artist & Song Title. Let me prepare you, dear reader, I'm going to brag a little bit. This was pretty damn easy. I'm going to guess my average time for each track was 1.5 seconds before I had both pieces of information.
1. Wallflowers, "One Headlight"
2. Ben Harper, "Steal My Kisses"
3. Pearl Jam, "Daughter"
4. Sister Hazel, "All For You"
5. Porno For Pyros, "Pets"
6. Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Freebird"
7. LL Cool J, "Round The Way Girl"

Finally, my time-honed ability to cycle through 18 radio stations in 10 seconds pays off. I don't think they could've pick a series of radio-friendly songs that were any more in my wheelhouse from late High School-era music consumption.
7/7, we get at least one perfect round on the evening. After 6 rounds, our total is 31 out of 43. So we're getting a little better, maybe the last round will get us somewhere close to the top 3.

Round 7: Ball Busters
General Knowledge again, this time they're supposed to be harder. This time they were harder. We completely bombed this category and produced a measly two points. The open wound of 5 incorrect answers still stings, I don't even want to get into it here. So we end up with a weak 33 out of 50. We've also had 3 pitchers of some crap beer like Bud Light, so the evening has been a dissapointment on several levels.

Inquiring as to our finish place, they tell us we were "around 10th or 12th". I suspect they give everyone a finish position about 10 spots higher than it actually is in order to entice a return trip. Well, they've enticed a return trip.

My dad won't be around for future rounds, but we've got a couple of ideas about who our best quality additions could be. Perhaps if we ever place I'll write another trivia recap. Otherwise you won't have to read about these mediocre performances again.

**PHOTOS added to the previous post.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Whose In Your Top Five?

Well, it looks like Summer is officially here in Chicago, and here to stay. We were greeted Saturday morning with our first near 90 degree day (yes, we have had several since then, and I am most definitely not looking forward to running home from work this evening) and took full advantage of it by stupidly bravely getting our first "long run" of the season underway. We suffered through the pain cave by dragging our favorite Adidas rep out with us. I someone survived 14 miles and then immediately went into a comatose state for the next 4 hours. Around 6 we met Rob and Beth at Cooper's, #99 for some outdoor patio drinking and supper. The beer menu at Cooper's is intimidating and the food was well above average. Disco fries, racks of ribs, and burgers were consumed to our enjoyment.

Hall shows up at the tail end as we're discussing H2C and he relives his story last year there of endless puking and shitting. It was a good thing we already ate. It was here Rob brings up the Celebrity Top 5 list. We try to guess Beth's and she gets utterly disgusted when Kyle suggests Hugh Grant. I believe her response was, "ewww, Hugh Grant looks like my old college roommate, and she was a girl!" The game became the theme of the evening.

After a few hours at Cooper's we walk down to Kirkwood so Hall can make his appearance at JJ's bachelor party. Not much to write about here, we already visited Kirkwood a few months ago and today wasn't any more entertaining than before. Hall buys Kyle a shot of Maker's Mark, and he starts feeling the FML side effects kicking in. After 1 beer we (all but Hall) walk down the street to The Coach House, #100. The Coach House is merely the back room at Uncle Fatty's, and is anything but an actual coach house. We were uncertain what vibe they try to give off here, but it was anything but fun.

Some memorable quotes did come up here:
"If I would throw up in the alley here, I would go inside." -Beth

Q: "I don't know what this place is trying to be?" -Beth
A: After Rob looks around for a second he responds with, "Lame."

"I think this back room is a private party going on." -Beth
"A private party I don't want to be invited to." -Kyle

The Top 5 list discussion carries on. Kyle knows immediately who his Top 5 (Keira, Eva Mendes, Gisele, Charlize (seriously?), Shakira) are as we all ponder ours. The discussion gets out of hand when Beth mentions her Top 5 girls. This gets Kyle thinking who his Top 5 guys would be, and immediately responds with Martin Short. Rob also teaches us that the black cowboy hat is in fact, the party variety of cowboy hats.

Kyle doing his Jay Leno giant-jaw impression

After a single $5 312, the four of us head down to Cesear's, #101 to meet up with Annie and her friend Julie. We make the outdoor rooftop patio ourselves after our loud and obnoxious set of jokes. Kyle perfects the whale noise to a T, but disappoints the crowd with the Bavarian creme pie joke. I believe a couple about rapists were also involved. This is the 2nd Cesear's location we've been to so far, and believe it or not, the insensitive jokes were kept to a minimum this time. We each enjoy a couple Mega size margaritas (Large < Jumbo < Mega) and enjoy life.

We decide to cap the evening off at one more bar. The Avenue Tavern is right across the street and seems like a logical destination. After sitting at our booth for 15 minutes and having our waitress completely ignore us, we dub this one of the worst bars we've been to yet and proceed to leave without getting a drink. Yes, we'll have to come back at some point, but I won't enjoy it. The final destination is Friar Tucks, #102. FT is a dodgy/dive bar meets Medieval English pub. Drinks are cheap, the atmosphere is great, what more can you ask for? Well apparently that answer is a bachelorette party. Kristin and Ashley (not sure which one is getting married) get Kyle to show his nipples, and in return he gets some fabulous plastic beads. This group provides endless entertainment going from group to group in the bar to accomplish their scavenger hunt clues written on penis shaped paper. The extremely cheap pitchers of beer weren't bad either.

Friar Tuck's Ceiling, all ready for the Pride Weekend

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Was Born Into Self-Actualization

Summertime arrived this week and it brought back the return of Thursday-night EBONY bar hopping. Recent weekend outings have seemed quite like a chore when it comes to crossing bars off the list, our Thursday evening reminded us of the reason we started this journey in the first place -- tossing back a few with our good friends and broadening horizons in the process.

Dinner was at Estrella Negra on Fullerton (definitely outside the radius). The food is great, the decor is terrific, the prices are reasonable (especially after they got rid of the $5 corking fee), the music selection was stellar, the service friendly. My one complaint? We could've ordered 5 more entrees and still ended up hungry. Four six-packs were downed by the collection of Broseph, Chuckles, Selfy, Rick and myself.
Joe gave us a quick rundown of the obstacles in his upcoming event, Warrior Dash, and it sounds positively insane. Good work, Red Frog Events Crew.

Thanks to the mercury rising, we decided to visit what is probably (shhhh!!!) THE BEST BEER GARDEN IN CHICAGO. Cody's (#95), is a neighborhood bar tucked away in the SW direction of Belmont and Ashland. Swinging saloon doors, laid back and unpretentious atmosphere, pool tables, a quality jukebox, characters drinking at the bar. At Cody's you no longer feel like you're in the city, you seem to be transported to the party at that one friend's house who lives just beyond where the suburbs turn into the wooded country. He has outdoor darts, a giant grill, horseshoes, bags, and the kind of weather-worn furniture you get from never taking things inside. The people he invited over that you don't yet know could wind up being your friends for life, or they could give you stories you'll never forget. All thats missing is a bonfire, and you think you could sit here in the warm weather all night drinking cold beers, looking at the stars, and laughing with your friends. Only you're in the city, there are no stars, and the frequent sirens flying down Belmont or Ashland continually disrupt your peace. Selfy and Joe narrowly (well...maybe soundly) defeated Rick and I at darts. Adam showed up since he now lives 30 seconds away from here.

So enough with my love letter to Cody's. Joe had never been to The Pony Inn, and we have continually talked this place up for it's preponderance of very attractive women. The 4 of us (leaving Adam at Cody's...) walk into TPI, and apparently the secret is out. There are 3 females here, and two of them are employees. The rest of the bar, like the other 30 people, obviously have heard the same things about this place. So we left before ordering anything. Kick, Push, Kick, Push, Kick, Push, Coast...

The plan was to walk down to The Lincoln Tap Room, but we notice Grand River, #96, before we get there. Grand River was completely empty save for our lovely waitress and the guy we assumed she was with at the end of the bar. After serving us our drinks, tolerating our stories about why we're at the Grand River -- and paying more attention to us than she needed to -- she takes off for the night. The guy at the end of the was her boss, presumably that's the extent of their relationship. Nothing much else to report from here. Grand River would probably be a good place to hang out with friends and feel like you have the place to yourself even when there's a crowd around.

Next up, my second trip there in a month, but first for an official EBONY event, The Lincoln Tap Room, #97. I came here last month with my brother and his friend Ricky prior to catching Dent May at Schubas. During that visit I put some cash into the jukebox and our talkative bartender vetoed my last choice, the YYY's "Honeybear". F that. He did at least pour us a shot of Powers Whiskey, which is pretty damn good. This time around the jukebox wouldn't even accept my money. Our bartender on the second visit was playing his ipod, and he offered to take requests due to the Jukebox FAIL. He didn't have anything I was looking to hear, we settled on Iggy Pop. We talked to him about the blog, he thought it was pretty awesome and wished us luck in our journey. The Lincoln Tap Room is a roomy place, and I had previously thought about making it the last place for EBONY to visit this year because it'd be good for a huge party to wrap things up. Guess we'll find somewhere else since we've now crossed it off the list.
At this point Joe and Jason took off in favor of sleep, and Rick and I started our usual drunken Thursday night decision making of "ok, which gay bar should we go cross of the list?"
Berlin was the second of two places we would visit for less than 30 seconds on this night. Entering the darkened front door we were confronted with a cover charge of $10. Exiting the darkened front door we declined to pay a cover charge of $10.

Which meant our fourth and final stop of the night would be the 930 Lounge, #98. The 930 Lounge is really just part of the Clarke's on Belmont, it's the half of it that has a bar. We've been here several times prior this year, but not for the purpose of drinking. Clarke's serves both breakfast and lunch. After many of our Saturday morning OMTC long runs we are in disagreement about whether it's time for lunch (kyle) or breakfast (rick). Clarke's is the answer. There's really nothing else to write about our trip there this evening, The 930 was pretty uneventful.

A recommendation --
Following the vein of AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, FML.com, textsfromlastnight.com, etc, we bring you two more time wasters from the wonderful place called the internets:
Emails From An Asshole
My Life Is Average

Early Adapters (those of you who may be reading this as soon as I've published it), we'll probably start off this evening's bar-hopping at Cooper's on Belmont. They have an outdoor patio.

Keep your heart, 3 stacks, keep your heart

Monday, June 15, 2009

Looking Through a Keyhole

No bars within a mile radius this weekend as Kyle was being adventurous and was picking up some roadkill in the Madison-Chicago 200 Mile Relay. The weekend ended up being perfect for street festivals, so not many bars would have been conquered anyway. The greatest thing Chicago has going for itself in the summer Chicago are its street fests, and there were a plenty this weekend. Annie and I headed over to the Old Town Art Fair, which commemorates the three year anniversary of me taking the intern at work out for our first date. OTAF is great for people and dog watching, and also some amazing art thrown in there. I would never actually consider buying any pieces here as the prices are well above my budget, but it is still fun to glance around and partake in the adventure of art watching.

After Old Town we headed up North to RibFest and met up with the Internet Celebrity Baumer and Chuckelstiltskin. If it wasn't for the music lineup, I wouldn't recommend going to RibFest. There are way too many drunk individuals crammed in to a 2 block area of North Center and you can wait a good 30-45 minutes in line to get your sticky hands on some mouth watering ribs. Fortunately Walter Meego and Margot and the Nuclear So and So's were gracing the stage Saturday night. Walter Meego was sub-par in my book, playing the newly recorded mellower songs they been writing lately, until eventually finishing with there as heard in a the Heineken commercial jingle, "Forever". For what Meego's set lacked, Margot and the ... more than made up for for. I didn't know much about the band before this weekend, but was pleasantly surprised by their sound and on-stage antics. The only way I can describe them is as a mix of Arcade Fire and Gogol Bordello. The 2nd percussionist alone was enough entertainment as he was just loving life on stage.

The night concluded at Matilda's were Eickoff showed up three sheets to the wind. Kyle was MIA still feeling the effects of racing 21 miles in an 18 hour period. We also learned that Belly's has closed and has been completely ransacked. Too bad we already hit up that bar earlier in the year as it may crack our Top 10 worst bars list (which is coming).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bouncing Here and There and Everywhere

Saturday had lofty ambitions, but things that are not very important (this blog) took a back seat to things that are very important.

Rocks (#92), the one on Lakewood, not the one on Broadway, was our late afternoon/early evening stop. One Great Lakes Grassroots and one Lagunitas Pale were ordered from the impressive offerings (AlphaKing, Rimshaw, Great White, Bells -- all on tap; and 20+ bottles to choose from).
Things were cut short, no need to get into them here.

2 quick hits from later in the day:
*In reference to one friend eating too much of something that he shouldn't have been eating too much of (vagueness intended), "They're not Gummi Bears!"

*My phone spent the night with some girl named Ariel. It and I were separated sometime after 3am (?), and it probably had a better night than I did. Thanks to help from Abby, my phone made it back to me around 1pm on Sunday.

We have a new Twitter Feed set up: @EmptyBlog

Possibly coming soon -- top 10 best bar discoveries so far this year; top 10 worst bar discoveries so far this year.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Our Bodies Get Bigger but Our Hearts Get Torn Up

As has been hinted all week, this is Kyle's younger brother Grant guest reporting here at EBONY. With Ricky returning from Mexico & subsequently recovering, I only had the opportunity to enjoy one official evening of EBONY bar crawling. Saturday the 30th found Kyle and I attending Maifest in Lincoln Square and then the Do Division Festival later in the afternoon. A few highlights before the official bar visits:

- The 7 year old guitar player / gimmick of the Maifest Polka band. He needs to work on his stage presence.

- Kyle, Selfy and I played some Ping Pong at the Happy Village bar. I dominated until the local ringer showed up with his own paddles.

- The Seitan sliders from the Mana food tent at Division were excellent. Kyle and I devoured several each day. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, I think I could safely recommend the Mana Food Bar.

- Handsome Furs delighting the Division Fest crowd with their energetic live show. They played a shortened set with pretty much only songs from their new album, Face Control. It was still great. White Rabbits were enjoyable, but often sounded a little to much like a Spoon cover band. Flosstradamus started quite a party for their hometown crowd with their dance-happy mashups.

- Got to meet up with several of my Chicago friends briefly at Do Division and also at Boundary on Division. Good to see all of you guys. Sarah claimed I displayed some confused puppy dog eyes as I had to choose between following Kyle to meet Ricky or hanging with my friends around Division. I followed Kyle, only because I dream of being a great EBONY internet celebrity.

Kyle and I took a taxi from Division back to his apartment where we dropped off our bags and then took off on foot for Smartbar. Kyle made the mistake of crossing Clark in hopes of saving time, but my patience allowed me to destroy him in our foot race to Smartbar. Flashing our "get-in-free" text messages, we quickly made our way down to the basement club. Ricky and Kyle have been there before this year, so I won't give a full report. I must confess, however, that I was served the worst gin and tonic of my life in this establishment. In retrospect, I think the bartender added soda instead of tonic and fully neglected the gin part. After chatting with Craig and company for a bit, the EBONY-ites and I set out to tick some bars of the great list.

Before getting underway we savored a quick 4th meal at Taco Bell. This experience would set a theme for the evening, as we were entertained by the wildly intoxicated girl sitting next to us. As she ate her two sober-er friends looked at her with total disdain. As her friends dragged her out, this girl decided to throw her trash all over the ground. Clearly trash cans were too complicated for her at this point of the evening.

No more than a block down the street we found Uberstein (#92), a German-themed bar within a block of Wrigley Field. Uberstein could be a decent place to enjoy some German beer were it not placed right smack in the middle of Wrigleyville, a neighborhood I have learned is synonymous with being neither fun, interesting, nor cool. Saturday night's crowd saw some leftover Cubs fans and many fratty, Wrigleyville types. Ricky, Kyle and I sat at a high table across from the bar and ordered a round of Hofbrau steins. Little did we know we would soon be treated to a tragic "love-square" worthy of Shakespeare's pen.

The pictures above explain the situation far better than I ever could, and this post is rapidly becoming obese, so I'll keep it succinct. The sport-coated individual, who was dressed not unlike Andy from The Office, had a overwhelming fondness for his friend's girl. He was so smitten that he totally ignored the girl with him, who seemed not to mind as she spent the whole time texting. "Andy" was rather aggressive at times, especially when his friend went to the bathroom, leaving the desirable girl all alone to fend off Andy. At one point of the evening, his friend had his hands around Andy's neck in a half-joking/half-serious choking manner. It was all very dramatic, awkward, and extremely childish. Isn't that what happens when morons drink too much alcohol? (and i'm sure we've all been the morons at one point in our life).

Finishing our beers at Uberstein, we set out to knock another bar off the mighty list. A few doors down Clark we stepped into The Central (#93), which I think typifies the Wrigleyville scene. 3 Miller Lite's were ordered and we spent about 7 minutes watching some rather grotesque dirty dancing that somehow passes for courtship these days. We may have finished our beers, but I'm pretty sure we didn't, so I hope that counts as an official EBONY bar visit. A quick walk down Clark back to headquarters concluded our evening, although Ricky claims to have been up till 7am with some Mexico-related illness.

After attending two bars with Ricky and Kyle, I now acknowledge that their quest seems more of a chore than I had once thought. Crapholes like The Central and its surrounding bars offer the promise of peoplewatching and little else. Make no mistake, the completion of this year-long task will rank among the great endurance epics of our modern era. I should think the 907 will be pleasantly exhausted at the end of the year when they can return to endless nights of beer drinking at Matilda and dancing like idiots in the basement at Baby Atlas.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Photographs and Memories

A saturday in pictures while we all anxiously await whatever it is my brother is going to write about the bar hopping and general fun of 05/30/09.

There will probably be a little bit of Saturday bar hopping, and there will likely be a brand new EBONY twitter feed soon (after much demand. Not really. Only one person demanded it and we will pretty much do anything people ask of us.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Yes, we are much overdue for a report. I swear something from last weekend will be up soon (now that I am no longer feeling the results of Montezuma's Revenge from my PV trip), we even have a guest blogger on tap. In the meantime, don't you wish you had a baby Asian to clean up your mess at home?