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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chinatown is for Lovers

In midst of "bar crawl" home from US Cellular Field

Maybe at some point Kyle will get a write-up of our 12 bar excursion from 10 days ago. With this long of a wait and the fact that Kyle has taken a couple days off work to prep for the piece, I am expecting Gold. The bar has been set.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Soul

Friday, September 11, 2009

Outside the Lines

In honor of the federal holiday which was based off the Canadian holiday, we gathered up our Canadian expatriate in Holland, and Chenoweth for good measure, for an afternoon White vs. Red battle amongst of the Sox at the Cell. We knocked off a few bevies at Bridgeport’s new classy (only one?) establishment in Rocky’s. Rocky’s brings a new charm/sophistication to the neighborhood in which will eventually retake the pre/post Sox game revelry void since Jimbo’s was closed down.

The game itself was in typical Mark Buehrle fashion. I’ve been to 15 Sox games this year, and I believe Buehrle has pitched in 7 of them. In the end, the Southsiders took home another W against their Bawstonian opponents in taking three of four in the series. All four of us were definitely good and buzzed after many Miller products, along with some Becks and Heineken in our bellies. The Brooks Boyer promotion this weekend was a Staycation at the Cell, this included $1 hot dogs and pretzels. We each consumed 2 of the chewy $1 hot dogs and have somehow lived to tell about. Holland has his theory why they were selling them for only a buck, but I’d rather not recollect his hypothesis at this moment. Our other source of laughter in this game came from Holland, who may I repeat is from Canada, complaining about our seats being too cold in the shade. We move to the sun and I graciously (this will come back and bite me) offer him some sun tan lotion I brought. The kid looked like an elephant ejaculated on him after he put half the bottle of SPF-50 on his arms and legs as the white goo puddled all over his skin. Being from the North and as pale as I am, I assumed he knew how to apply it. Apparently I should never assume the intellect of an attorney.

After the game we stumbled back to Rocky’s for a beer on their outdoor patio and then over to Ethyl's Party to continue our afternoon buzz. None of us have ever been or heard of this place, and the only reason we decided to go was because Metromix claimed it was in the area. Boy were we not let down. Ethyl’s is a converted funeral home to a bar for the locals (majority Italians) in the neighborhood (Armour Park) to get away from their wives. Describing it in words can’t do its justice; you just need to visit the place. It still looks like they have funeral services here, expect they added a bar on the side wall. The place is dump, but in a good way. There is an odd pungent smell, paint splattered throughout the walls, and a plethora of potted plants throughout the room. Whoever Ethyl was, she knew how to get down. Now if the aesthetics weren’t enough, the clientele definitely put this place on the map. We were the only ones who didn’t know everyone else at the bar, and I’m pretty sure we were in the minority in that we weren’t smoking in the bar. Who needs laws when your bar is run by the mob (this is a pure speculation on EBONY’s part, and has no proven merit behind it)? There are free beef sandwiches were the casket would be, but learning that the kitchen is the old embalming room, we pass. Given the state of the bathroom, I would have guessed the embalming was done there. The waitress was probably more intoxicated than we were. She comes over to our table and immediately locks eyes with Holland. As she gets closer, the pungent smell of the bar is diffused by the lotion smell emitted from Holland’s pores. Of course I get blamed for this, and am immediately thrown under the bus and even implied to be a homosexual because of this. Thanks Derek. After a couple $2 beers we come up with the brilliant idea of making this a pub crawl all the way back to the Northside. Now for those of you who aren’t cartographers at home, the mapping of US Cellular Field to our homes is quite a distance, probably in the 8-10 mile range, yet in our intoxicated state, we are never shy from a challenge.

Next stop on the surly bus express: Chinatown. It’s safe to say that four highly intoxicated Caucasians stood out like a sore thumb in getting to Cermak. Chenoweth is on a mission to find an “authentic Chinese bar”, but in the sake of time we elect for Won Kow for a quick beer. We perch down at the bar (note: there really isn’t a bar here, it’s mostly a family restaurant with a couple bar stools in the corner). The “bartender”/waiter is polite enough to turn the TV to Golf Channel for us as quickly down our Tsingtao. After this we debate on which direction to go, either to the South Loop or Greektown. We decide that Greektown is more on our way and we get in a cab to make time. Yes we went against the general rules associated with a pub crawl, but then again, our terrain in between points A and B are pretty barren. I think we all realized we were a lot drunker than we were upon arrival. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the restaurant we went too, but it has an outdoor patio (The Parthenon, Acropolis, Athenian Room, Gyros Hut, Lambs R Us?). Don’t remember much here, I know we each had a Hillas to drink and Derek ordered 5 appetizers for us to share. Afterwards we caved in to the idea of crawling the 5 or so miles back home and just hopped on the #8 for early to bed evening. We dreamed big, but failed. Maybe we should have followed the words of Aesop, “I’ve never had a dream in my life, because a dream is something you want to do and still never pursued. I did what I wanted, and did it until it was done. And that’s the dream I’ve had since Day 1.”

Throughout our pub crawl Kyle was texting me quotes from the afternoon since we didn’t have our trusty notebook with us. Given I have little recollection to the later afternoon hours and don’t necessarily know the context behind it; I’ll just paste them here.
“I am the Cherry master.” – I think from the video poker machine at Ethyl’s
“I can swim from Brazil to Africa. Yeah, and Sarah Palin can see from Alaska to Russia.”
“Rick doesn’t like the beer. No, I do like it, I’m just drunk.”
“I say we get a mojito.”

Our count of bars we’ve both visited together outside the mile radius is now at 29. I’m not sure if I’m proud or disgusted. Also don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @EmptyBlog. Peace.

Google map of our route

NEON INDIAN LIVE!!!

Post title is an undisguised attempt to draw attention to myself. It probably means nothing to most of you reading this.

This is an intermediate post just to keep y'all engaged. I'm working on the recap of our magnificent record breaking and leg bruising 12-bar crawl from last Saturday. Rick is working on the recap of our attempted Labor Day neighborhood bar crawl home from US Cellular, you know, all 10 miles of it (make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men's blood).

Last night at the Kia Soul Collective event we saw Moneypenny's 3rd live show (having already seen them at Lollapalooza I can claim I've seen 66% of their shows). Also performing was the second live set ever from blogosphere fave Neon Indian. Their first show was the previous night. So I've seen half of their shows, too. Search around the 'nets and you can probably find the track "Deadbeat Summer". If you like MGMT you'll probably like them.

Probably not too many bars on tap for the next couple of weekends. I've got a half marathon on Sunday I'll be resting up for, and the weekend after that is the annual houseboat trip (maybe I'll post the menu I come up with). We do, however, plan on hitting up the World's Largest Beer Garden next Tuesday night. So you have that to look forward to. Your levels of excitement are unmeasurable, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

This Aggression Will Not Stand

Aggressive. That simply sums up yesterdays adventures. Your friends at Empty Blog of Nothing set a new precedence in bar crawling after crossing another 12 bars off our illustrious list, crushing our previous high of 9 bars in one day. We are also pretty confident that we have now visited every Boystown bar on Halsted Street. Many shout-outs go to Broseph, Internet Celebrity Baumer (who has now pretty much clinched the crown), Jeremy, and Jennifer for keep up with us throughout most of the day. More details will follow, and there were some damn good quotes and sights from last night. Teaser: "Excuse me, what exactly is a FURR?"

Bars 126 thru 137 included: The Yard, Harry Caray's, Murphy's Bleachers, The Cell, 44th Ward Dinner Party, Halsted Bar and Grill, Bucks Saloon, Cocktail, Minibar, Town Hall Pub, The Lucky Horseshoe, and 3160.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Time Has Been Going By So Fast

Quick notes from Kyle prior to Labor Day Weekend -- random thoughts on random things and the last 10 or so bars we've hit up.

* With the Cubs out of town on Saturday we see it as a good time to try wrapping up as much of Wrigleyville as possible. The Illini will be on at 2:30 -- give us a shout if you want to hang.

*I don't drink coffee. I've always felt the need for caffeination in the morning is a sign of weakness (just like feelings). Is it strange that due to my enjoyment of dark beers with coffee-inspired flavors I almost want to start exploring the coffee world simply for the taste?

*The Blarney Stone, #116 - one of those bars that seemingly would not survive anywhere else but within the shadows of Wrigley. The overwhelming demand for watering holes in the area creates a supply of mediocrity. At 5:05 on a Saturday, Cubs out of town, there are 3 customers in the bar. Two of them are us.

*Houndstooth, #117 - Baumer joins us for drinks in a Saturday attempt to put LeroyTimPeterChuck as far out of reach of 1st place in the EBONY Friends Rankings as possible. I also run into MC200 teammate Brandon, decked out in his SEC Kentucky Blue. Speaking of Kentucky...a handful of years ago my Aunt got married in the bluegrass state (happy recent anniversary!). The original plan was to have my Uncle (her brother) perform the ceremony, giving our entire family the chance to get my Grandmother a shirt that would read "My Son Married My Daughter In Kentucky". My horrified Grandmother put a stop to that.

*Rebel, #118 - Not a bad bar at all. Good playlist too: 99 Problems, Social Distortion, Warren Zevon, White Stripes, The Darkness...well okay, time to go. Guess you can't winn 'em all.

*Stretch, #119 - The tables we occupy are labeled as "Reserved for Kelly @ 9pm".
"Kelly must be a special girl." - Kyle
"Kelly is probably a 250 lb dude." - Internet Celebrity Baumer
This place looks like the inside of the Pony Inn, but with 200% more Wrigleyville.

*Merkle's, #120 - This is an Iowa bar, it's pretty crowded, but with a good mix of drinkers. We get free sample shots of a very very terrible whiskey. Rick compares it to waiting 10 minutes for 3 beers earlier in the day and declares, "Houndstooth is the worst bar I've ever been to." It's September of 2009, we are 120 bars into our tour for the year, we've been to roughly 30 bars together outside of our radius this year, and I've probably been to another 50 bars with Rick prior to this mission. I'm going to go out on a limb and say I've heard Rick declare "random bar is the worst bar he's ever been to," oh, probably 46 times.

*Moxie, #121 - It's quiet in Moxie, we own this place for now. Somehow we've crafted a haphazard afternoon/evening bar crawl with a perfect mix of crowded bars followed by not-crowded bars. The Rogue Mocha Porter would not be my first choice, especially at the 6th bar of the day, but, you know, see bullet point number 2 in this entry.

*Wild Hare, #122 - We just beat the cutoff before they start charging the cover. Friends would arrive later and say the $12 was well worth it. Good times dancing to reggae (hardly ever my musical genre of preference) and drinking red stripes. I have scribbled on the last page of my notebook, "BEST W-VILLE BAR THIS ~~illegible~~."

*Bar Louie, #123 - or "Bar Louis" as Rick has apparently begun calling it, is somehow our 8th stop on the evening. Rick and I were guilty of over-training in college as runners, and it's safe to say we continue this idea and extended ourselves a little further than necessary with a stop at Bar Louis.

*I purchased a new notebook for EBONY this week having filled up the last one. Many notes were jotted down that did not make the bar. They'll be secrets for a long time. One day, generations from now, the empire I have built will open the centerpiece of the Kmac Museum to display my never-before-seen collected writings. Advance admission tickets can be purchased, admission anytime upon opening of the Museum, for the non-inflation adjusted price of $25. Please pay me in cash before our board of trustees raises the cost!

*Of note, in relation to the last bullet - My handwriting resembles that of a serial killer (namely John Doe from Se7en). A thousand journals penned by my hand would be somewhat alarming to witness. 999 to go.

*Tavish, #124 - this is my second visit to Tavish. 4 years earlier, the last one left me empty with disappointing food and...well, that's all i remember. This time around, having greatly expanded my pub horizons, I recognize Tavish was reviewed unfairly the first time. Were I more of a local to the Wrightwood/Wayne intersection I would kill many an hour sidled up at this bar.

*Four Shadows, #125 - One of the few bars almost a full mile away from our apartment, nothing else is nearby. Glad to get this one out of the way.

*4 months left to go, roughly 75 bars remaining. Time has been going by so fast, all the things we've been waiting for have already passed and gone (this isn't even the right Jonathan Richman song I'm linking to, but you should go watch this one anyway). Our tour of duty has been eye-opening, and we still have much left to accomplish. As has been mentioned in these parts several times before - the task often seems cumbersome, and the steel bear trap of a mind I had when recollecting the specifics of each and every bar visit has now become a dull and ineffective mousetrap. Walking down Lincoln Avenue I have trouble recalling which ones I've visited and which ones I haven't. Either too many days, too many bars, too many beers, or a combination of the three. Perhaps the crispness of the changing season will invigorate our resolve, reigniting the torch of discovery. Hell, everyone is a little lazy in the summertime. One thing is for certain, my individual Retail Leak scores have never been lower. Support your local shops & restaurants. The merchants in your neighborhood are the ones that put value back into your community. See you at the taps.

I stopped drinking Jager in high school

Today you get our simple and abridged version of last Sundays outing. We knew we had a few bars west of us near Diversey to visit, so with Jay Cutler and Bears taking it to the Mile High City we had our built in excuse to leave the apartment. Unfortunately a few bars on the way are closed on Sunday, even for a Bears game, so shame on you Maeve, Wrightwood Tap, and Side Street Saloon. Hat Tip goes to Tavish, #124 which was open. Highlights include:
- an owner who knows his Little League World Series history
- flying solo locals looking for a good conversation, and to the point of ad nauseum are reliving their glory days of playing college soccer at Puget Sound
- good beers on tap with no Bud or Miller products – high five!
- apparently a full spread of free food during Bears game, we may revisit
- departing shot on the house
- learning Kyle and I are both tall and lanky, but I am the buffer one

After a couple Brooklyn Brown Ales we head up to Ashland to watch the game at Four Shadows, #125. Highlights include:
- bar area is basically a larger and newer version of the front room at Sheffields
Conversation overheard #1: “You showing the Bears game?” “On every television.” “Give me a Budweiser then.”
Conversation overheard #2: “You have MGD light?” “No, only Miller Lite, Bud Light, and Coors Light.” “Oh (long pause), uh I guess I’ll have Coors Light then.”