Saturday, December 20, 2014

We're Not For Everyone (Day 1, Pt. 2)

[Click here for Day 1, Pt. 1]

Bub’s is the most college thing about this North Carolina “college” town.

Chapel Hill is really just a gated community disguised as a college campus. Lush, green foliage and the smell of lush, green cash dominate the landscape. Bars like Top of the Hill, with its modern, polished oak décor and tie-wearing bartenders, typically aren’t found within spitting distance of college kids—either geographically or economically. Bub’s, on the other hand, is the dirty, smoky corner bar with the cheap, strong drinks and battered arcade games that regular students at regular schools have always gravitated towards. The bar those of us who weren’t born with a college tuition receipt tucked into the pocket of a pair of Louis V. boat shorts have always called home.

I ordered myself a Jack & Coke and settled in. MoFo has spent quite a lot of time at Bub’s, and played up the man-about-town role with aplomb, shaking hands and talking to people like he’d grown up just down the street from them. He BS’d with the owner. He BS’d with locals. He was absolutely relishing this opportunity to show off “his” world.

While we watched all of this from the bar, T.C. pointed down to my drink; it looked small and flaccid next to his. He, Hurley, and Trip had made a similar trip to Raleigh last year. And of all the stories that were repeated and referenced ad nauseam prior to that moment, the one that had gotten the most spins was about how the guys had stopped at Bub’s for “one drink,” and subsequently wiled away an entire day there. “You gotta do a double at Bub’s,” he said, ordering up another Rum & Coke double. Captain, my captain. I tossed back the rest of my drink and ordered myself a double.

That, unfortunately for MoFo, was the last helpful tip T.C. would provide that night. Bub’s has a frequent drinker program, wherein each time you order a different bottle from their ample selection, they punch a little card for you. 50 punches gets you honor, respect, and your name on a plaque on the wall. MoFo’s name appears on that plaque. Twice. At the time, he was working on #3, and at the bottom of a bottle he asked T.C. for a suggestion on what to order next. The bartender gave him a list, and unfamiliar with the name, T.C. called for him to serve a bottle of Crispin to our buddy. Crispin, however, is a “hard” apple cider. MoFo shook his head, drank down the light, fruity beverage like he’d promised, and cursed T.C. the whole way through.

After several rounds, we decided to finish the night back in the Raleigh area, so MoFo could put away his car keys and get as serious as the rest of us about his boozing. I mean, he already drives with reckless abandon when he’s sober, and he’s got the type of career that would disintegrate into dust were the slightest hint of a DUI to show up on his record. And he’d had a few at Bub’s. And—*whoop-whoop*…

Navigating the surface roads on the way out of Chapel Hill, a trooper’s blue lights sprung to life out of the darkness. MoFo dutifully pulled over to the side of the road, and we speculated on his odds. MoFo wasn’t intoxicated, by our less-than-scientific standards of measurement. A cop’s opinion, of course, might differ. To his credit, the homie was calm, and somewhat confused about why he was being stopped at all. “I wasn’t even going that fast!”

The cop walked up to the driver’s window, and began speaking before he’d even shined a light into the truck. “MoFo, what the fuck are you doing?”

MoFo: “[Cop]! What’s up, man?”
Cop: “I spotted your ass doing like 75 in a 40. Slow the fuck down, man!”
MoFo: “I was doing 75?”
Cop: “Man, we’re out here snatching people. Slow it down.”
MoFo: “My bad, man. My boys are in town, I’m just taking them back to Raleigh.”
Cop: “Cool, cool. I’ll catch up with you later.”
MoFo: “Aight. Hey, good lookin’ out, man!”
Cop: “No problem.”

Maybe there was something to MoFo’s feelings of familiarity with the natives of this area, after all. Or, as someone (I think Hurley) put it once MoFo’s window had gone back up: “…are you fucking kidding me?”

Once we’d reached Raleigh, and MoFo had pocketed his keys for the night, the air felt electric. He led us to Natty Greene’s, with a basement bar full of relaxed people drinking and easing into the night. I seem to remember doing a shot at this bar, though what it was—or whether it happened at all—is anything but a firm memory. Then, while T.C., Trip, Hurley, and I jumped on a shuffle hockey table (coolest guys in the bar? *awkward thumbs up*) MoFo found a group of girls.

One of those girls was 5’4” with long brunette hair and a nice bum being cuddled by a short, striped skirt. Realizing that five guys were looking at her made her giggle and shyly turn her head—in other words, she loved it. But since (a.) this particular young woman was standing next to another young woman who looked like Justin Bieber, and (b.) when Bieber noticed us staring at her friend, she grabbed the striped ass and grinned at us, we were less than optimistic.

It didn’t deter MoFo, though. Instead he strolled over to their table and introduced himself. After several minutes of small talk with the lesbian and her lesbian-for-the-time-being girlfriend, MoFo rejoined us—alone. The table of ladies had decided against accompanying us in our move to the next bar. Shocking.

We walked to Hibernian Irish Pub, where pretty people buzzed everywhere in a library-like motif that left the standing room strategically minimized in some places. Shrinking the area around a bar leads to strangers being forced into close proximity. That leads to a shlammered, 5’7” brunette beauty in heels turning to her right, seeing me a foot away from her, and saying bluntly, “I bet you have a huge penis.” That then leads to me being speechless for just long enough for her three girlfriends to drive block her down the stairs and out of dicks’ harm’s way.

MoFo (who had been standing next to me) and I found the others standing out on the deck, and reported the experience. The others, of course, immediately headed back to the scene of the crime, trying to find this gal, despite the futile attempts by MoFo and me to restate the part of the story where she got pulled away by her friends. What we found instead was a different group of women, this one nowhere near as attractive or interesting as the first (granted, “I bet you have a huge penis” are the only words I heard anyone in the first group of girls say; but you can’t deny that that’s pretty damn interesting).

Two of the girls (“Participation Award” and “Eager Beaver”) clamped down like a mousetrap when these five handsome older men came strolling within their reach, and were instantly in our faces with lame conversation. T.C. and Trip were drunk, which meant T.C. and Trip were the friendliest guys in the hot tub bar. They were also the two furthest removed from the game of the five of us. So, not knowing any better, they quickly struck up newfound friendships with these gals. MoFo, Hurley, and I, meanwhile, headed for the exit. The married guys would pay for not doing the same.

A block or two down the street we discovered Cornerstone, a bar built around the concept of the house party. Such a simple idea, yet this was the first I’d ever seen it brought to life. With the layout of a frat house, it was a crowded bar featuring various rooms. Each room had a bar and a crowd, as did the back deck. Fucking. Party. Here MoFo found an old friend who the others had met last year when ____ _______ it __ ___ _____ of the _____ ____ where ____ were all _______, IN FRONT __ _____.

[When I’m a billionaire and can financially compensate my friends for what they’d lose due to awesome stories getting published, I’ll fill in those blanks.]

From Cornerstone, MoFo, Hurley, and I set off in search of food. When we realized that the snack stands and restaurants on the same block as our hotel were closed, Hurley headed back to the room while MoFo and I pressed on. Soon enough we found a guy with a hot dog cart, making a killing on a corner as people lined up for street meat. He soon made four more sales, and my buddy and I were double-fisting kielbasa sandwiches as we strolled back to the hotel.

Any joy I’d gained from cramming food into my drunken vessel on the way back to the room was obliterated, though, by hearing familiar voices coming from inside as I pulled my keycard from my wallet. I looked at MoFo and said, “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” Sure enough, we opened the door to find the annoying chicks from Hibernian sitting in the room.

This was a foul. A huge one. You don’t bring annoying chicks back to the room you’re sharing with your boys, unless (A.) they’re hot, and/or (B.) you plan on doing god’s work. Neither A. nor B. was going on here. T.C. and Trip tried to claim they had let them come back for MoFo and me. Bullshit. They got stuck talking to two drunk chicks who were giddy from the thought of finally getting a piece, and couldn’t muster up the balls to tell the girls to fuck off.

I looked at Hurley, who was sitting up in his bed looking bothered, and he just shrugged his shoulders. Neither MoFo nor I acknowledged the trespassers. I changed into gym shorts and got into a bed, nearly pushing Eager Beaver off the foot of it in the process. MoFo sat down in a chair and finished his second sandwich. Hurley and I didn’t lower our voices at all as we exchanged various versions of, “This is bullshit!” and "Why the fuck are they here?" Sensing our displeasure, the girls finally left.

Trip and T.C. would get clowned for the rest of the trip. It was only right.

[To be continued...]

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We're Not For Everyone (Day 1, Pt. 1)

[Click here for the Intro]

Friday, March 21st
Of the many ways to start a road trip, the best one isn’t getting only three hours of sleep beforehand. T.C. had suggested Hurley, Trip, and I meet him in WashPa at 6:30 a.m.; I started packing about 11:30 p.m. Thursday night. Still, I arrived on time (and somewhat delirious). T.C. and I loaded up the Yukon with our bags, as well as some cases of beer and Red Bull, while Hurley commanded the driver’s seat. We made a quick run to the Krispy Kreme next door—for coffee (…shut up)—while waiting for Trip. A few minutes later he arrived, and we got on our way.

One thing was very clear from the beginning: The guys in the truck with me, all being in committed relationships, could not WAIT to spend the weekend without their significant others hounding them. Maybe it was my delirious, sleep-deprived state, but I was the most sedated of the four of us. The others seemed to be shaking in their leather seats, rambling like sherm heads. While they talked about boobs and butts they used to know in their respective heydays, I melted into the front passenger seat and listened from a distance.

I couldn’t sleep though, which is somewhat of a tortuous thing given those conditions. Trip saw my turnt down state and knew what the situation called for. When we made our first stop for gas somewhere inside of West Virginia, he grabbed a six-pack of Sam Adams out of the convenience store cooler and strutted toward the cash register.

The next leg of the journey would see T.C. driving, Hurley sleeping, and Trip and I casually working our way through five of those beers (one was saved for when T.C. passed off driving responsibility to someone else). Suddenly, I was much more involved in the group’s conversations. Life, in general, seemed brighter. While friends in Pittsburgh complained about having a snowstorm on the second day of spring, I was sipping beer and cruising across Virginia in warm sunshine. I’ve had worse Fridays.

As we neared the outskirts of Raleigh, we listened to the tourney’s first major upset: #14 Mercer – 78, #3 Duke – 71. The game was played in Raleigh; we passed the stadium on our way into town. And we had pooled our money into a bet on Duke. Not only did we miss a chance to see a huge upset live and in person, but we’d lost money on it. Yayy
courtesy of SB Nation
We found the hotel and waded into the lobby. People swirled past in every which direction, as we quickly realized that the University of Memphis and their fans were headquartered there. “I want cheerleaders,” came from someone’s lips. I think it was mine. It may just as well have been a stranger saying those words; after several hours of highways, beer, severe sleep deprivation, and guys-trip euphoria, I’d achieved out-of-body consciousness (and pretty much wouldn’t come back from it until the detox drive home a few days later).

In the room we cracked more beers and began playing a game called “Head’s Up” on Trip’s phone while we waited for MoFo to arrive. Once he got there we began weighing our options for the night ahead. While Trip and T.C. insisted on going to the hotel’s hot tub (where they soon befriended a middle-aged guy named “Dick”; yes, the jokes wrote themselves), Hurley and I opted to stay behind and get cleaned up instead. We then walked down the street to Jimmy V’s with MoFo while waiting for the hot tub boys to catch up. When everyone was finally cleaned up and focused, we hopped into MoFo’s truck and gunned it towards Chapel Hill.

Despite being friends for many years, that drive—to the best of my recollection—was the very first time I’d been a passenger in a vehicle piloted by MoFo. You know how your grandmother reacts when she’s in the passenger seat of your ride and you go over 35 mph? Well MoFo drives like your grandmother thinks you drive. He drives like he’s a protagonist in a Roland Emmerich blockbuster. He drives like he’s out of earplugs, and Nicki Minaj is behind him with a megaphone and her rhyme book. He drives like a rapey velociraptor with an erection is within an inch of his bumper.

A consequence of being in unfamiliar territory in a vehicle traveling at unsafe speeds, is you believe your captain when he tells you the trip will take “20 minutes.” Even when, 20 minutes in, he still says, “20 minutes,” you believe. And 20 minutes later, when you’re still squeezed into an SUV doing 60 in a 15 mph zone on the University of North Carolina campus and you’re told you’re “almost there”? You believe 20 minutes.

We parked and began strolling through Chapel Hill. Part of me wished I was 10 years younger; part of me really didn’t care that I wasn’t. You expect the hub of a major US college to be youth-oriented. Maybe it was. But, while I knew 24-year-old me would’ve felt as though he owned the land on which he walked, 34-year-old me was hardly alienated.

And I felt even more at home when we made it to Top This. It’s a burger bar with a beer habit, and it’s every bit as warm and inviting as a place could be, thanks to the owner, Tom**.

Tom is a saint. Don’t ever let the archdiocese or some other “official” tell you otherwise. When we walked in, thirsty and hungry and distracted by the UNC tourney game, this beautiful man saw no other pursuit more worthy than getting us (1.) a waitress, (2.) beers, (3.) a table, (4.) beers, (5.) beers, (6.) burgers, and (7.) beers. And when I say he got us beers, I don’t just mean he pushed the watered-down light beer on special at us; I mean he encouraged us to taste test the various brews that they had on tap and asked each of us about our personal beer preferences BEFORE expecting us to order anything on our tab.

Tom is a saint.

And, even without the superb customer service—which certainly includes Tom insisting that we all do a shot with him—I would still be singing praise for Top This right now, simply because the food and beer are amazing. That’s not hyperbole for blogging sake; everything was fantastic. I mean, my mouth is watering right now as I type this, and I guarantee it’ll start again each time I proofread before posting. [Ed. Note: Yup.] Absolutely delicious.

After we’d filled up with beer and burgers, and T.C. had pitched Tom on opening a Pittsburgh location, we bid Top This adieu and moved down the road to Top of the Hill. This…was my kind of place (well, one of my kinds of places…I’ll explain in a minute): a swanky second floor bar overlooking the main drag, filled with TVs and good looking people watching the end of the UNC game. I drank a Jack & Coke as we watched the nail-biter, shouting in unison with the natives and high-fiving them at the end of the Tarheel victory. My switch to hard liquor had been a gut decision. As in, it felt like it took up less real estate in my gut than the gallons of beer I’d consumed thus far. That feng shui would be important, as we moved on to our third and final Chapel Hill stop: Bub O’Malley’s.

[Day 1, Part 2 coming soon...]

**I just now learned that Tom Scheidler has sold Top This, and is no longer behind the bar in Chapel Hill, making all feel welcome with fine eats and sumptuous ales. It saddens me to hear this, as I was hoping to make Top This a regular stop when I'm in town. I may yet, and the new ownership may make an honest effort at replicating the red carpet treatment that Tom provided. And though I'm skeptical, my skepticism shouldn't be seen as a mark against these new owners, but instead as testament to the unattainable bar that Tom set. If you're out there reading this, Mr. Scheidler, allow me to say thank you, for your incredible hospitality and fantastic food and drink.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

We're Not For Everyone (Intro)

Some people deal in absolutes. Never wear brown with black. Always wait an hour to swim after eating. Always let the boss win. Never fake the funk on a nasty dunk. I’m more of a realist. And, as a realist, I recognize that nothing’s black-and-white. Sometimes things go one way, sometimes they go the other. So when someone inevitably tells you “No good ideas are thought of when you’re drunk,” pat them on the head and just smirk.

Last Christmas Eve I stopped at William Penn Tavern on a whim, looking to catch up with my boy MoFo, who I hadn’t seen in years. While I was there, he and Jed mentioned a trip that T.C. and Hurley had cooked up for March. A “guys’ trip,” wherein gents from Pittsburgh would descend upon Raleigh, NC—where MoFo lives—to enjoy a weekend of heavy drinking and NCAA tourney games. I considered it somewhat half-heartedly, knowing I had the Chicago trip coming early in that same month, which was going to bite a serious chunk out of my bank account. A couple of nights later, before I blacked out, T.C. and Hurley pitched the trip to me themselves. Nearby Chapel Hill is always packed with booze and coeds, I’d been promising MoFo for years that I’d visit him in NC, the hotel room would be free (T.C. has rewards points out the ass), and nearby Chapel Hill is always packed with booze and coeds…

“Sure… *sips Manhattan* Why not? *gulps Manhattan* It’s only money! *orders another Manhattan*”

When I sobered up a couple of days later, I guarded against disaster by telling T.C. my participation would hinge on how big of a hit my finances took in Chicago. And so, when I somehow made it home alive from the Chi in March, I tallied up what I’d spent. It was about half what I had expected to drop. I quickly texted T.C. “It’s on.”

The last time T.C., Hurley, and I went on a trip together was Buffalo in 2011; before that was San Diego in 2008. So…yeah. This time around we’d be adding Trip and MoFo to the mix [Jed had to bow out due to family issues]. There’s a network sitcom writer out there somewhere who’s kicking himself for not thinking up a pilot with a plotline based on this gathering of guys in their early 30s, all in different places in their love lives. A summary:
  • MoFo – Having married a girl thought at the time to be his soulmate (by him and all around him) in 2005, in the last few years he’s enjoyed the highs of becoming a dad and the lows of a bitter divorce. Now a bachelor, he dotes on his daughter on the daddy weekends and dotes on the ladies on the Who’s yo daddy weekends.
  • T.C. – Happily married for 7+ years, the homie is a consummate family man, with two rambunctious blonde-haired boys, a dog, and a beautiful house in the suburbs. Funding the construction of a new house for his clan at the time, he continues to break his back every day to keep everyone happy, healthy, and fed.
  • Trip – A renowned playboy in his younger years, our goofy friend has finally met the woman for him, and at the time was engaged to be married to her later in the year. And the transition of his private life mirrored that of his professional one: In the year prior to the trip he had given up his dream career in front of cameras for one behind a desk. Once out there living the public (albeit local) glamour life, he’s now dedicated to a quiet existence with his bride-to-be, focused on long-term happiness.
  • Hurley – For quite some time my homie has been a fellow bachelor, doing bachelor things. Several months before that March weekend, however, he’d succumbed to a much younger girl who had locked him down. Newly in love, he had been doing the dance we all do when re-familiarizing ourselves with domestication. You know, avoiding bar sluts, fewer weekend nights unaccounted for… The standard.
  • Me – I just don’t give a fuck. As previously discussed.

Ready to roll. Let's go.
Honestly, you couldn’t imagine five friends with more diverse personal lives. And yet we all fit together like pieces of a puzzle. A GMC Yukon was rented, days were called off from work, I listened to “Raise Up” a few hundred times, and we prepared to unleash ourselves upon the South.

[To be continued...]

Monday, November 17, 2014

Social Drinking Excellence: Johnny Depp

Here's the thing: He's clearly earned a Rummy Award; but I don't have a lot of cute jokes for this one. They just aren't needed. And, really, how many "Captain Jack Sparrow" references can I make here? So Mr. Depp, here's your Rummy. I'll leave the presentation of this esteemed award in your more than capable hands.

From Tastefully Offensive:
The first televised edition of the Hollywood Film Awards got a little cringey last night when a very intoxicated Johnny Depp presented the Hollywood Documentary Award to the legendary talent manager and film agent Shep Gordon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Social Drinking Excellence: John Boyett

*pulls old cardboard box out from back of a closet*

*blows off thick layer of dust, revealing the word "Rummies"*

It's been a while...

This page has been quiet, as have I for the most part. But the drunken shenanigans, they'll always be out there, being had by someone.

From Shutdown Corner:
John Elway is as popular as ever in Denver, but name dropping Elway did not help Broncos practice squad safety John Boyett when he was arrested on Monday. Elway, the Broncos general manager, didn't seem too impressed either, because he cut Boyett on Thursday.

Boyett allegedly had a heck of a time out, it sounds like from the police report, via the Denver Post. Take a gander at what Boyett was arrested for. It's quite the list:
"In summary, according to the police report, Boyett was highly intoxicated, threatened a bartender at a sports bar where he ate, drank and did shots, was belligerent to his fellow patrons, assaulted a cab driver, stole a shovel from a construction site so he could whack the cab driver, fled the scene and tried to hide from police by trying to bury himself under mulch."

...It's not like that report wasn't enough for the Broncos to consider cutting Boyett, who was cut by the Colts last September after being charged with disorderly public intoxication and resisting arrest (he allegedly played the "I'm a Colts player" card then), but Boyett then decided that his best move was to tell the police to "contact his boss, John Elway." He did this repeatedly, the Post said, after he was arrested and put in the back of a patrol car.
Well now. Start the clock:
  • I take no joy from this, as a Raiders fan. None. ...Okay, maybe a little.
  • Okay, a lot.
  • Really, we shouldn't judge Mr. Boyett. One day of watching Peyton Manning and Papa John pal around and you'd be drinking yourself into a stupor, too.
  • If he'd been going after Papa John with the shovel, instead of a cabbie, the cops look the other way, right?
  • If this was the '70s, Boyett's night on the town would've been called "Tuesday." And most of the team would have either been right there with him, acting a fool, or at a bar on the other side of town, acting a fool. And bad press about it never would have gotten out. Welcome to the 21st century.
  • Being that I know someone who has tried hiding from police in recent years, I'll have to suggest Boyett's mulch idea. Then again, it's not like it worked for Boyett...
Mr. Boyett, your Rummy is in the mail—it's even been autographed:

"Dear Johnny B.,

Good luck on all of your future endeavors parole hearings.

John Elway"


Friday, October 17, 2014

Put 'Em in the Air

Give this man the Nobel Prize.

From Huffington Post:
A product design engineer living in Charlotte, North Carolina, has figured out a way to easily and securely suspend bottles from the top of a fridge using magnets, freeing up empty space in your fridge for whatever else it is you consume.

The device is simple enough: an eight-inch plastic strip outfitted with a row of three extremely strong neodymium magnets. Those magnets are encased in steel cups, to focus their magnetic strength. The strip is held to the fridge by a high-grade adhesive tape that works at low temperatures.

The product is called bottleLoft, and its creator, Brian Conti, is using Kickstarter to bring his invention from prototype to market. With 23 days to go, he's more than halfway to meeting his $20,000 goal and plans to ship the products by January 2015.
Who can deny a man of such dynamic vision? Click here to fund bottleLoft. Welcome to the 21st century.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Wifey Material: Beer-Loving Bae

I have no idea who she is, but I kinda feel like we were meant to be, don't you?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Miracle Pill

As an established drinker, I treat hangovers like police departments treat Black citizens: an unpleasant but incurable fact of life. I have yet to test out a hangover cure that wasn't total bullshit. Put fluids and food in you, get as much sleep as your schedule will allow, and keep a toilet nearby, just in case. Really, those are the only tools afforded to us in this world.

Or, rather, those were the only tools. Now, thanks to the research of Jeremy Glass at Supercompressor, there's a new weapon to consider adding to your arsenal: Drinkwel.
As the Vice editor for a major online publication, my email inbox is constantly flooded with requests from companies asking me to get wasted and try their "miracle hangover cure." Most of it is nonsense. Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical when a box full of hundreds—literally hundreds—of Drinkwel pills appeared on my desk. I'm a smart drinker nowadays...for the most part. I drink in moderation, try not to mix, and hardly ever shove anything weird down my throat anymore...

...But after my long boozy night, I popped three before bed and woke up feeling amazing. Like I had drank a glass of milk and been in bed before Letterman. Like I had fallen asleep in a hammock near a lake. Like a spring chicken covered in dandelions and doused in morning dew. Something like that.
Interesting. But I'm still skeptical. Jeremy lists a five-day "binge" of testing Drinkwel on different types of drinking nights, but few of his alcohol intakes sound all that threatening to begin with. His hardest night sounds like a happy hour for my friends and I.

Nevertheless, I'll be on the lookout for Drinkwel at my local retail outlets (oh god, I may actually have to go into Whole Foods), in the hopes of putting it through a real road test.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Double Up

“You my friend are a legend.”

Praise like that from Pakistanimal doesn’t come cheap. Somewhere along the way you pay with your liver and your ability to give a fuck. It was late afternoon on Sunday, August 3rd, and I was laying on my couch, sucking on a Gatorade bottle. I sure didn’t feel like a legend.

I had started the weekend by not getting out of work until around 6:30 Friday night. Nothing screams “Turn up!” like spreadsheets. Despite that, when Pak called after 7, I think I agreed to go out in Shadyside before the question had even left his mouth.

After a quiet couple of drinks at my place, we walked to The Yard for a few more quiet drinks. And some quiet shots. Fireball Bombs—quiet Fireball Bombs. “This,” I thought, “This is right where I need to stay tonight. Quiet.”

After a couple of rounds—and sharing disgust over the Paul George injury with the bartender and other bargoers—Pak suggested we give in to the inevitable and head over to Shady Grove, where our boy Jed was bartending. We were settled in on Grove barstools by 11:45, and things rapidly went downhill from there. To summarize:
  • My Twitter buddy Lo agreed to come catch up with us. But as soon as she and her friend sat down on the other side of the bar, and before they could come say hi, a group of guys descended upon them.
  • I made whimsical jokes about it on Twitter.
  • Jed decided it was a “Let’s start doing shots of Rumple Minze at 1:30” kind of night.
  • Lo, her friend, and the guys all disappeared.
  • I made less whimsical, increasingly-stalkerish jokes about it on Twitter.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes, out on her own nearby, came over and joined us.
  • Pak got irrationally angry, to the point where he tried to fight people around us for no reason.
  • I awoke Saturday morning with Pak face down on my couch, texts from FGT asking wtf had happened to him, and some tweets that called for an explanation/apology.
After that apology, I asked Lo where she and her friend had gone. “I think the bar was closing?” Welp…

I’d already had plans for Saturday, and they would require a tad more decorum. Alex is good friends with Turbo, one of the Grove’s owners, whose wife was throwing him a 40th birthday party at their home. This would be good food, good drinks, and—most importantly—good behavior. …Okay, slightly better behavior.

Alex and a tray of crabcakes got to my place just as a torrential thunderstorm unloaded on Pittsburgh. If you ever want to see a woman with perfectly done makeup and hair run like a lunatic, drop a million gallons of water from the sky as she heads towards her car.

We went to Grove to catch up with Jerry, Lil Mo, and other friends who were pregaming the party. Jed looked at me like I was a ghost. It had only been about 14 hours since I’d been there last. He helped fill in some of the gaps in my memory, since the last thing I remembered clearly was him pouring the shots of Rumple Minze. Pak’s mood swing, hanging with some of the other Grove regulars, being there ‘til 4 am—all of it was news to me.

When we finally walked into Turbo’s house, the weather’s uncooperative nature had forced a few modifications. The event was catered by a barbecue restaurant, and the whole deck had been set up with grilling equipment and tables. The rain meant that those were now abandoned, with the food and booze relocated to the kitchen and dining room. Guests were handed towels as they walked through the door. Thank god Turbo and his wife have a big, spacious house, because 50 people were now confined to the first floor of it.

Once inside and dry, though, standard rules applied. I got myself a gin & tonic, Alex got a glass of wine, and Lil Mo—the smallest person in the place—filled up a plate with grilled meat. We posted up at one end of the living room, some of us sitting along the wall facing the rest of the party like a firing squad of judgment. Jerry and I placed bets on how many pieces of birthday cake one of the older women at the party was going to have, as she hovered around the table on which it sat. Several of us watched a couple go into the bathroom together, and theorized on whether they were fighting, sexing, snorting, or some combination of the three. A beautiful Indian woman, who was clearly feeling whatever it was she’d drank, walked over and retrieved her phone from her purse. We watched in stunned silence from two feet away as she wobbily took a selfie, with a decorative sticker on her arm strategically positioned in the shot. Then, never having looked at or said a word to any of us, she put her phone away and stumbled back off into the party.

Jerry, Mo, and some of the other guests departed, but Alex and I decided to hang out a little while longer before breaking for the bar. Thank god we did, because it gave me an opportunity to meet my future wife.

Nicole, a longtime friend of Turbo’s wife, is awesome. Greek and Italian, she’s hilarious, pretty, full of life, and can drink with the best of them. And she loves whiskey; she was drinking it on the rocks. She told us the tale of how, when a guy was getting menacingly close in a bar some years ago, she reached behind her, broke a beer bottle on the bar, and threatened to stab him.

I literally got down on one knee in front of her on the porch.

By this point, I was sipping on a wonderful tequila one of Turbo’s friends had brought to the party as a gift. And just when I thought it was time to stop drinking and head to the bar, Alex grabbed my cup and went back inside for refills. A drink at the bar, a few gin & tonics, and now a few glasses of tequila on the rocks. This could only go to good places, right?

Alex and I, as well as Nicole and several people from the party, saddled up and headed to William Penn Tavern. We got a table, we got drinks, and a brilliant strategist among us got a basket of fries for the table. In our group was the pretty Indian selfie connoisseur, who I talked to for a few minutes. I don’t remember what that conversation was about, or what her name is. I don’t even think I remembered a few minutes later, when Alex and I walked off to the bar’s patio area. She seemed like a sweet girl, though.

On the patio we spotted the bouncer, who I’ve seen around Shadyside for years working at different bars, including Grove. We bullshitted about the drunken people and the stupid shit they were doing…rather meta of me, I know. At one point, he had to make a run inside to use the men’s room. So like a good friend, I stood at the entrance, and eyed up an ID or two while he was gone.

Here’s where things get blurry. From what I can remember, Alex ordered a round of shots. At some point, while standing at the bar after the shots, I began chatting up a cute brunette. She was cool and smart, and interested in what I had to say, which just made her cooler and smarter. After 15 minutes or so, I had started browning out (i.e., coming in and out of consciousness). I suddenly “woke up” to find myself talking to this girl, with no clue who she was or what we were talking about. So, when she excused herself so she could go to the ladies' room, I did what anyone would do: I finished my beer and walked straight out of the bar.

Yup. Not a single fuck given.

I walked over to Grove and sat down, for the third time in 24 hours. Who I talked to (other than Jed), what we talked about, etc., I was too blacked out to ever remember. The next thing I know for certain, I was waking up Sunday morning on my couch to the sound of my phone buzzing with texts from Alex.

Being a legend is a good way to die young.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Morning Briefing

I’m presenting Sunday morning’s text exchange between my homegirl Alex and me without much context…for the moment. That’s because (a.) frankly it’s funny enough on its own, even without much background, and (b.) I’m hoping to actually write up as much of Saturday’s events as I can remember/publish without legally incriminating myself and others.

*wishes he was kidding*

Just know I was technically still sleeping during this. I don’t remember typing any of the AM parts, despite the convo spanning over 20 MINUTES. I think I went to the fridge and cracked open a Gatorade after the first exchange, but from there I went straight to bed and slept until 3 pm.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Slip'N Cup

I'm glad to see that the bros and broettes out there are finally finding ways to make flip cup fun. This is a close second to twerk cup.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lie Down and Take It

I mean, you're going to end up on the floor anyways... This is just the safer, more responsible way to do it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Shots to the Dome

Thankfully they didn't choose a model with curves. Otherwise I might've been distracted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Poppin' Bottles

Remember being a kid in the summertime, when the best thing ever was your mom pulling a box of popsicles out of the freezer for you and your friends? It's a phenomenon that disappears when you get older, for some reason. Popsicles are still tasty, and still refreshing on a hot summer day. But they have no magic about them anymore.

As with most things in this world, the solution is to add alcohol. Thrillist has compiled a list called, accurately, "Boozy Popsicle Recipes." And it could just be the best way to beat the heat.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bros Don't Let Bros Bong Alone

As easy as it is to make fun of this, I'd really only be doing it because I'm 13 years removed from college. I'm old and bitter. Were I still young and...sweet...*cough* I'd probably be throwing money at whichever of my friends was suggesting we order one.

From the Bro Bong Kickstarter page:
Introducing the first ever beer bong holder that hangs on a typical door way. Just slip in any regular beer bong into the holders, pour your beverage of choice into the funnel, and race up to three people to see who’s the fastest. Change the way you look at doing beer bongs and once you try our Bro Bong you’ll never want to use a regular one again. The Bro Bong will be sure to make for one of the best nights you'll never remember.

Designed to be easily installed on any door frame without the use of tools or hardware, take the Bro Bong with you to parties or just hang it on any door in your house. Built in L.E.D lights turn on with a push of a button for hours of fun. Beer bongs slip right in and out of the hanger for easy cleanup and also have a built in shut-off valve so everyone can start at the same time.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Free Wheeling

Typically, a bachelor party’s potential is based on the personality of the bachelor himself. The more charismatic and larger-than-life the man of honor is, the more likely the party will be worthy of attending. That’s why I can’t wait for the time to come when TJ and Dupa have their respective bachelor parties. Or for when they each eventually have their second, third, and fourth bachelor parties.

When T.C. informed me that he was planning our buddy Trip’s bachelor party, I found myself with a goofy smile on my face, and no words on my tongue. None were needed. Trip is a legend amongst those who know and have partied with him. To what exotic locale would this ode to the Clooney of Western PA take us? Vegas? Montreal? Rio?

Wheeling Island, West Virginia.

There was, however, logic behind this choice. Trip is having a big destination wedding, and knows that means only a limited number of his friends can attend. So to offset that, he wanted to make his bachelor party as accessible as possible. The party would actually span two days, with events on the first day taking place all around Pittsburgh. And T.C., the best man, has been a part of at least two prior bachelor parties held at Wheeling Island, neither of which was short on good times and laughter.

But…Wheeling? To grow up in Western PA is to know that no matter how shitty it is to live here, you always have West Virginia there to remind you that it could be worse. This was not going to be a night of flashy decadence, so much as a night of drunken hootin’ & hollerin’.

I’d planned to catch up with the celebration at the bar on Friday night, but a hard few weeks of work had me backing out of that plan by Friday afternoon. Instead I saved all of my strength for Saturday, and stepped into the casino ready for action about 5 that evening. T.C. met me at the front desk and escorted me up to one of the three rooms he’d booked, where IC Light, Miller Lite, and Shock Top cases were iced and waiting.

Most of the party participants, including the bachelor himself, were still at the golf outing portion of the day. That left T.C., Trip’s college roommate Rex, Trip’s brother-in-law Vince, and I to get the boozing and gambling started. After pounding a few IC Lights in the room, I found myself the first of many Beam & Ginger Ales at the casino’s central bar, where we watched the Belmont Stakes (eight of the guys had each thrown $20 on one horse in the hopes of cashing in on the 20/1 odds; sadly, those odds don’t pay out on a fourth place finish). Then we found ourselves the blackjack tables and got to it.

I’m no stranger to the inside of a casino, but I’m still a relative novice when it comes to blackjack. So there was hesitation in me as I laid down $100 at the $10 table, wading into the kiddie pool with T.C. and Rex. I quickly, though, found myself recounting some of the wisdom Dupa taught me in Vegas, when I made $100 last over four hours. Once again I managed a fluctuating stack, never busting but never going more than $10 over. I’ve realized that while others play blackjack to shoot for the moon, I’m simply at the table to float softly in the air, five feet off the ground like a kid on a seesaw.

Besides, I was content with pounding through the Beam & Gingers they were bringing me every 15 minutes. And I found more than enough entertainment in the guy at the other end of the table. He was an old-timer, well into his sixties, who somehow still hadn’t mastered social interaction. He seemed like a nice guy, but…

He was seated in first position at the table, but was always the slowest to act. He made poorly-thought-out jokes to the pit boss about cheating. After a short while, Trip arrived from the golf outing and joined us at our table; when Awkward Grandpa learned it was our buddy’s bachelor party, he called over one of the chair massage girls walking the casino floor. But, as he bought a massage for Trip, he blurted out, “And give him one of those—what are they called? Happy endings?” A few minutes later, he asked her, “How much does it cost to massage you?”

At one point, I was sipping a Beam & Ginger and weighing the pros and cons of seeing an old man get his ass whooped by security on a casino floor. I mean, I really wanted it to happen, but I knew I’d kind of feel bad afterwards, for at least a few minutes. (Especially since I’d probably try to get a few kicks in myself.)

I cashed out at $60 and joined the rest of the guys at the café just off the floor, where I ate the greasiest double burger ever. By the time I got from the food counter to our table, the bun was soaked through and clear. Mmmmm. One of the guys (“Baby J”) made a trip to the room and came back with cans of Miller Lite in his pockets. It helped to wash some of the grease from my palate, but I still felt like I’d drunk a can of WD40. Thinking about the mixture of ground meat, crude oil, cheap beer, Jim Beam and ginger ale that was in my bloodstream that night makes my skin crawl. I’m fairly certain it’s the chemical compound to pink slime.

It’s always best not to think about things like that in the moment, though. So…#TurnDown4What? Our swarm of tipsy, grease-addled 30-year-olds moved to Wheeling Island’s dog track, where we promptly overtook the bar. I made one bet, while pushing my Beam & Ginger Ale total near double digits; it was on a dog named “Whisky”-something-or-other. It just felt right.

My deeply scientific method for picking a winning dog didn’t pay off. One of the guys in our group, though, won $300+ on a trifecta bet, on a race at another dog track. And none of those mutts were named after what he was drinking at the moment. How does that even happen? I drank more whiskey to cope.

After enough whiskey and gambling—and gambling on Whiskey—it was time for the third side of the bachelor party pyramid: strippers. The thing about Wheeling Island is, it’s very “West Virginia” everywhere but on the small patch of land where Godfathers sits. Inside that oasis, the girls are all cute (at a minimum), the staff is relaxed, the clientele is civilized, and the bar is always well-stocked. In a lot of ways, it’s actually one of the nicest strip clubs in the area. It’s an even better coffee shop and steakhouse.

As cute as all of the dancers were, I quickly detected a theme: None were bigger than a B cup. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m a lover of women, no matter what size their feminine wiles come in. But one of the underrated perks of a strip club is that you (normally) get to see the whole range of sizes. It’s something a lot of women don’t really seem to understand: Your man isn’t looking at other women naked because he doesn’t want to see you naked. He’s looking at other women naked because they are other kinds of naked women. The more, the merrier, and the inevitable variety of body types and sizes is an ingrained part of that. But at Godfathers on this Saturday night, it was all bee sting everything.

I ordered up drinks for myself and a few others, while I watched our buddy “Play-By-Play” talk up two dancers that looked barely 18, one of whom was wearing braces on her teeth and little black socks in her clear heels. When Play teased her about her socks, she said, “I don’t like walking on that stage in my bare feet!” “But,” he responded, “…you’re a stripper.”

Someone had just sent Trip off to the lap dance room with a dancer when he got called to go up onstage; Baby J had arranged for him to receive the ceremonial beating. The last time I saw this happen at Godfathers, two dancers beat GG’s bottom like he stole their tip money. Baby J had arranged for four dancers to take out their daddy issue-fueled rage on Trip. Ruh roh…

Those four modestly-chested women absolutely destroyed our buddy. And we rained dollar bills all over the stage while they did it. 5’3” girls took belts from seemingly nine feet up in the air and brought them the full nine feet down to Trip’s ass, where it laid prone on the stage, unable to stop the massacre. One dancer grabbed the waistband of his boxers and yanked like she was trying to save them from a burning car. When the band had been completely separated from the rest of the shorts, she relented and moved onto other means of torture.

When his five minutes of hell were over, Trip slowly picked himself up, paused, and then began dancing around the stage, even taking a twirl around the pole.

When he walked down off the stage, the dancer who had been trying to take Trip back to the lap dance room earlier came and collected him to finish that task. The rest of us fell back into our standard bar demeanor and, honestly, I don’t think anyone paid any attention to naked girls on the stage for the rest of night. As I ordered up another Beam & Ginger at one side of the bar, Vince called me over to his side to collect one of the shots he was pouring out. Play renewed his pursuit of Socks. I looked through the DJ booth and noticed I could see into a mirror in the dancers’ dressing room behind it. Then the thought occurred to me that I was spying on naked girls…at a strip club. I turned back to the booze and fun around me.

At one point, while talking to T.C., I heard the sound of glass crashing at my feet. Looking down, I realized I was holding only the top tenth of the Collins glass that I’d been drinking from. I checked my hands for cuts. Nothing. I checked my torso for bullet holes, thinking maybe someone had sniped me. Nothing. No explanation. My glass had seemingly spontaneously combusted. “At least you’ll get a free drink out of it,” offered Vince, as a bouncer swept up the Beam & Ginger murder scene.

When I stepped up to the bar, though, they wanted payment for my new drink. Dammit. I wasn’t the only one who was feeling shortchanged, though. Trip came back from the lap dance with a confused look on his face. “She didn’t get naked. She said they aren’t even allowed to take their tops off during dances.” I guess, even in an oasis, a little West Virginia can find its way in.

From there, the night wound down in pretty timid fashion. We headed back to the casino, where Trip and Vince sat down to play at a $25 blackjack table. (Vince’s gambling that day, where he broke even while probably putting about $50k in play overall, would get our rooms comped.) Some of the guys went to bed, some stood around watching the blackjack action. T.C., Bear Cub, Baby J, and I sat down at a nearby video roulette table, where I turned $10 into $28. Grinding is my life. I finally called “No mas” around 3:30, finding the room I’d been in earlier that night and passing out on a bed next to T.C.

And, really, that’s the best outcome you can hope for when you’re partying in West Virginia.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Check Yaself Before Your Wreck Yaself

As important as it is, as a bargoing consumer, to take care of the bartenders and servers who are taking care of you, it's equally important not to piss them off. Because, when it comes down to it, they're in the driver's seat. And, most of the time, they're just trying to do their job. And they can make your life very unpleasant if you don't act right.

Thrillist compiled this impressive list of anecdotes offered up anonymously by bartenders from around the US about some of the evilest, craziest things they've seen in their days behind the bar. Here are two of my favorites, but check out "Bartender Horror Stories", because the whole post is one hunnit:

"A club bartender had been stiffed and ordered around by this guy all night. The next drink he ordered, the bartender said he had to go get some limes, but instead he walked to a corner of the bar where nobody could see either side of him, unzipped his pants, and put his [REDACTED] in the guy's vodka tonic. He brought it back to him, and the guy chugged it. He might have chugged a couple of things that night."

"A guy at the end of the bar was pretty tipsy. He was talking a lot of s**t and threw his glass at the bartender. The bartender turned up the lights and turned off the music. He stood on the bar and said, 'Unless someone kicks this guy's ass, I am not serving a motherf**king drink.' Within a matter of seconds, the ass-whooping of a lifetime started. He was then dragged outside. The lights got lowered, the music came back on, and a round of Jager was ordered for the bar.

God bless Wisconsin."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Comfort Level

Can't get enough of this ad. I could shake my ass to this track all day. Granted, I can't shake it as well as this guy. But I could still shake it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kang like T.I.—But in the Chi? Daffy (Pt. 4)

[The final installment of the series picks up the morning after Part 3 came to a bitter end.]

Sunday, March 2nd
Being stone sober when I went to bed Saturday night was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, not having a severe hangover as you embark on a 7½ drive is always a good thing. On the other, I was sleeping in a recliner, two feet away from a Polish man snoring so loudly, it was as though he was trying to scare away a bear. If I was as drunk as I had been Friday night, I would’ve slept right through Dupa’s snoring without much disruption. Instead I awoke every half hour or so, both fearful I was about to be devoured and aggravated that I couldn’t find a comfortable sleeping position to be in when it happened.

Of course, the one guy who didn’t have to deal with the snoring—Dupa himself—was the first one up and out the door that morning, his flight back to Houston commanding that he leave for O’Hare by 9. The rest of us dragged ourselves out of Fire’s place around 10, thanking our host for his gracious hospitality along the way.

I took one last picture of the Chicago skyline (above), in an attempt to find some peace with a city that had both tantalized and tormented me over the past 48 hours. TJ, Dupa, and I often joke about each other’s preternatural ability to fall for the most mentally and emotionally unstable women we come across. I’ve had enough personal experience with the species to recognize them pretty quickly through the layers of “I’m just a regular gal, the cool-down-to-earth chick you’ve been looking for” camouflage with which they expertly conceal themselves. I see Chicago. I understand why TJ loves her, and why—despite the hell that was Saturday night— I want to visit her again (when it’s above 70°F, though): Chicago is a hot crazy chick. One moment she’s cooking you dinner and pouring you a drink. The next she’s treating you like shit and starting random, pointless fights. Chicago will never give you a healthy relationship. But she’ll never give you a dull moment, either.

And that’s just it; whatever the difficulties and inconveniences that at times befell my friends and/or me during our short stay in town, not a second of any of it was boring. Flat tires, taxi drivers with no navigation skills, frozen body parts, racist bar sluts, verbal confrontation fails, Old Style, vomiting in hotel lobby bathrooms, long waits for cabs in freezing temperatures—all of it was unpleasant, but none of it left us yawning.

With the Chitown skyline steadily retreating in the rearview mirrors, we had one scheduled stop to make before Pittsburgh. TJ’s old man, who lives in northern Indiana, was cleaning out his home in preparation for a move to Arizona. As part of that effort, he had two chainsaws he was handing down to his son. When we pulled up, he greeted us outside of his garage, in which sat three Mercedes. I felt a whimper building up in me, and did my best to suppress it. Then I heard Swag let out one of his own.

After setting off from TJ’s dad’s place, we stopped at a McDonald’s. But they hadn’t started serving lunch yet, so we chose to get back on the highway and press on. We missed an off-ramp, and ended up on a section of I-94 that we hadn’t planned on driving. To correct our error we exited in Chesterton, IN, where there also happened to be a Burger King Kang just off the exit. “Why not just stop here,” we thought, “and get some food in us before making the march towards the Ohio state line?” Yes. Why not.

As we walked into the serpentine crowd management system every Burger King has—and doesn’t need—TJ led, followed by me. No one else was in the restaurant. Behind the register, as TJ stepped up to give his order, was something of majesty.

Either he was 16, or he was 21 and looked 16. The young gentleman, standing all of 5’6” and 95 lbs, wore a perpetual, goofy smile, punctuated by glasses, a peach fuzz soul patch, and a ponytail sticking out from behind his visor. TJ rattled off a simple chicken sandwich meal order; the result was Da Kang’s finest employee slowly searching through the multitude of buttons on his register, in an attempt to find the button with the correct chicken sandwich. While this was going on, the manager on site opened up a second register and took my order. As he did, I saw TJ look back at Swag and make a gesture that suggested there was reason to look at the nametag of the guy struggling to process TJ’s order.

I glanced over; it said “Daffy”.

I got my drink and waited at the pickup counter. Swag, Canada, and some people who had come in behind us walked past with their cups and trays before TJ finally progressed that far. The three of us in our group who had not ordered their food from a walking, breathing cartoon character sat in a booth live-tweeting the whole incident, altering between hysterical laughter and nom-nom-noming, while TJ grew angrier and angrier at the pickup counter. #DaffyKang had arrived.

The four or five people who had come in after us all received their food and found tables, leaving the homie up there all alone. When the manager came over and asked what he’d ordered, TJ glanced up at the order queue and saw it was totally empty. The manager called back to Daffy and asked about TJ’s chicken sandwich meal; Chesterton, Indiana’s most cherished citizen raised his hands to his head and made the Macauley Culkin Home Alone face.

The hardest part about recounting any real life happening via written publication is always separating you-had-to-be-there funny from relatable, tangible funny. It’s a constant struggle for me in writing for this blog, because most of my stories involve a group of people who know each other so well and have so much shared history that nearly every conversation, no matter how trivial, produces laughs between us.

I say this to you now, because I understand there is no way for me to fully explain the aura of Daffy Kang to you. To a large extent, you had to be there, in that Burger Kang, in that the-Sunday-of-a-road-trip mindset, to embrace the levels of mystique that the legend of Daffy has reached in our shared history and syntax. I get that you, in all likelihood, don’t get it—or, at least, not to the same extent that we do. Hell, some of our friends who only witnessed the incident through Twitter don’t quite understand it. But, in that moment? Lawdomercy. TJ unwittingly being brought to a shaking, angry boiling point of frustration by a polite, goofy-looking kid working at a Burger King in a northern Indiana backwater town was one of the top-5 moments of laughter in my lifetime. Swag, who isn’t one to take a lot of photos during trips and parties, even captured a reaction shot of Canada and I doubled over in the booth, dead off the saga as it unfolded. Then he created a Wikipedia entry (right).

Daffy Kang might be the only thing crazier than Chicago.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Driving Angry

Things got a little out of hand last night in Pittsburgh's South Side, an area of the city where many-an-On-The-Rocks-tale has taken place over the years. A gem of a human being, it seems, decided to take out his self-hatred on several cars, street signs, pedestrians, and a night club.

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said around 2:30 a.m., Maceo Fulmore, 23, crashed into the front of Diesel Club Lounge on East Carson Street near 17th Street, and proceeded to hit seven vehicles, two parking signs, two trees, a fence, a telephone pole and a fire hydrant. He also ran over a white male in his 20s, who was taken to UPMC Mercy for related injuries. Authorities are not releasing the injured man's name.

There were no other reported injuries, Ms. Toler said.

A nearby patrolling officer heard the series of collisions and found witnesses dragging Mr. Fulmore from his car and punching him. The arresting officer broke up the fray, and reported Mr. Fulmore was visibly drunk.
Thankfully the young field reporter in-the-making below was on hand to record "about 90% of it" (and to repeatedly tell people he got about 90% of it).

Not only have a good deal of On The Rocks' stories taken place in the South Side, but a few have even featured Diesel—the club that Fulmore rammed with his Jeep. Here's to being mature enough to keep my old ass from around there last night.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Back Away

Spuds MacKenzie was a pussy compared to this dog.

This was found by my boy Chris, who suggested this pup was his spirit animal. Hard to disagree. Of course, if it had been protecting a bottle of Makers Mark instead, it would've been my spirit animal.

Excuse Me While I Powder My Nose

Game. Changer.

From Kissing Suzy Kober (TJ with the assist):
Attention all tailgaters, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has approved powdered alcohol according to Bevlog, a beverage industry law blog. That’s right, powdered alcohol you can add to your food, your drinks, or you know, just put in your mouth like Pop Rocks and let the magic happen.
Meet Palcohol, the substance that is talking directly to football fans in their copy:

Maybe you’re a college football fan. So many stadiums don’t even serve alcohol. What’s that about; watching football without drinking?! That’s almost criminal. Bring Palcohol in and enjoy the game.

What’s worse than going to a concert, sporting event, etc. and having to pay $10, $15, $20 for a mixed drink with tax and tip. Are you kidding me?! Take Palcohol into the venue and enjoy a mixed drink for a fraction of the cost.
The chances for this invention to be misued by anyone with a hint of an imagination ("Oh hey, boss. Just putting a little sugar in my coffee...") are too numerous to count. I think you can expect to see some kind of regulation brought about pretty quickly. But presuming they don't flat out ban Palcohol, this is big. Easily-concealed, easily-transported booze available anytime you have a Coke at McDonald's or just feel like a bump while you're walking through the store? Dear god.

And, speaking of "bumps"...
And just in case you were worried about snorting it, yes according to the website you can snort Palcohol, but that’s not using the product responsibly.
Well, I guess we all know how this one ends, don't we?

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Always in the Last Place You Look

This could easily have been me about 20 different times in the past month. I'm not going to bother throwing stones.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kang like T.I.—But in the Chi? Daffy (Pt. 3)

[Continuing on from where we left Part 2...]

Saturday, March 1st
I awoke after 8:30 and rolled over to see TJ lying on the other half of the air mattress, looking through something on his phone. “They may call off the game, because of the [approaching] storm.” I responded with a barely intelligible “Oh yeah?” I’d almost drifted back to sleep when the meaning of what he’d said hit me. “WHAT?”

Since he was the first one up, TJ cleaned up and then headed out to Wrigleyville to catch up with Weatherman while the rest of us slowly pulled ourselves together. Fire, showing true Chirish hospitality, had coffee and doughnuts waiting for us. And though he didn’t have aspirin or Advil, he had vitamin packs that he said would help replenish our systems. I wasn’t going to question it. In the state I was in, he could’ve handed me a rolled up twenty and said the lines of white powder on a small mirror were a healthy aspirin alternative, and I would’ve accepted it without contest.

Before we left I added a can of Mountain Dew Kickstart and a shot of Milagro Tequila. Hashtag: “Chicago Breakfast.” Leggo!

We cabbed it to Goose Island Wrigleyville, where Tennessee and his girl were with some friends of theirs. A waitress showed us to a table upstairs, and before we had even sat down, TJ, Weatherman, and GG walked in. They hadn’t even known we were there; the synchronicity of booze-loving minds is amazing. Our party of 11 ordered up beers and food. When Swag suggested mimosas, Weatherman and I were game. When the waitress came back over to us, he and I each ordered one. Swag ordered two.

As we ate, drank, and loudly debated various ramblings, Alex texted some of us to tell us she and E-Bomb were on their way. Nearly an hour later, they still weren’t there. When I casually looked over my shoulder in the direction of the stairway to see if they’d arrived, I instead saw a familiar stocky blonde guy in a Penguins tee striding towards us. It was Dupa.


…When I glanced around at the tables of bewildered diners staring at us, I abruptly remembered that being in public requires a tad more decorum.

My unfiltered reaction, though, was caused by the fact that our Polish homie had kept his planned attendance a secret from everyone but TJ. He’d played it up brilliantly the day before, repeatedly commenting on all of our Facebook check-ins, pictures, and statuses about the trip with the same one-word response: “Stupid.”

Alex and Ed finally caught up with us, and shared their tales of running around Boystown the night before. Among those accounts was one about Alex getting taken to the wrong hotel by her cab driver. I laughed heartily. (Remember that later…) Dupa worked on getting caught up, asking the waitress for a beer and a menu item named the “Black Earth Burger,” which he instead called a “[D.E.F.I.] Burger.” She gave him a blank stare, since she didn’t know my name, and the joke had sailed over her head. I laughed heartily some more. He also asked for poutine style fries; when we got our bill later, the final entry on our list of damages was, “POUTINE THE FRIES.” At that point, Chicago was starting to feel like my spirit animal.

We moved the party across the street to Sluggers. There we met a cute waitress with a spectacular bottom, Fire’s buddy German, and a phenomenon called Old Style. While the rest of us ordered up various drinks of credible pedigree (Vodka Red Bull for moi) and rounds of shots, Dupa ordered a pounder of the Chicago delight that was—and probably always is—on special just down the road from Wrigley Field. The look of anguish on his face as he tasted it was really brutal, as a friend. I almost didn’t laugh at him. …Heartily.

When Swag returned from the batting cages on the second floor (yes, really), we introduced him to a guy in the bar wearing a University of Miami hat. You see, Swag is an impassioned Florida State fan, who bristles at the mere mention of “The U.” So while this guy meant no harm and jokingly chided him about their differing collegiate affiliations, Swag was seething with rage over someone daring to wear Miami gear. You in Chicago, the land of FSU. (Don’t try to find the logic. The rest of us gave up years ago.)

The NHL officially stated that the game would go on as planned, so those of us staying at Fire’s—including Dupa—cabbed it back to that location, so we could fortify ourselves for the weather we were going to endure in the stands. For me, that meant a thermal shirt, Pens t-shirt and tossle cap, gloves, and heavier socks being added to my standard attire. When someone asked Dupa, who had come from 70 degree temps in Houston, what he had brought in preparation, he said, “Ski tech.” I did not laugh heartily; I muttered jealously.

Fire poured us out shots (more Milagro for me), and the seven of us toasted to the night ahead.

The plan was to use the Hilton Chicago, where TJ and Fire’s boy Kerrigan had a room, as a base camp. It was within walking distance of Soldier Field, making it a perfect place to meet up before and after the game. Those of us who had clothing more comfortable to wear in a bar took our bags to the hotel, so we could change following the game. Everyone squared away their (physical) baggage in Kerrigan’s room, and we hit the hotel bar. …Well, most of us did. Dupa made a quick pit stop in a lobby bathroom to vomit. Old Style’d.

Count this as the first—and, in all likelihood, last—time I ever have to wait in line to get into a hotel bar. The place was packed to the limits of the fire code with Penguin and Blackhawk fans trying to numb themselves up before the Lake Michigan winds could. I downed a couple of Miller Lites in an effort to do the same, but it just wasn’t working. Try as I might, I just couldn’t fight off the effects of soberness. I even switched to a Jack & Coke. Nada. Damn it.

It wasn’t helping that we were standing right next to an emergency exit, which people were regularly using to give themselves a more direct route to the stadium. Each time they did, Chicago’s “Windy City” reputation reached into the bar and punched each of us in the balls. Swag was clearly getting fed up, and when a round middle-aged guy in a Hawks jersey headed for the doors, our buddy asked mockingly, “Where ya goin’?”

“Uhh…the museum,” was the smart ass response he got (and probably deserved), as the guy continued on his way outside and met up with a friend standing on the sidewalk. Unable to handle not getting the best of this stranger, Swag fired one last salvo; he cracked open the door, stuck his bald head out into the pounding winds, and yelled, “FUCK YOUR MUSEUM, BRO!”

TJ and a few others had waited until the last minute to throw on their heavier gear, so while they went upstairs to do that, Canada and I each downed a Jack & Coke at the bar. After the drink we wandered out into the lobby, waiting to meet up with everyone. It seems the hotel was hosting a formal event of some sort, as men in tuxes and women in expensive dresses sauntered past us and up to a ballroom. Maybe it’s a good thing I couldn’t get drunk. Otherwise I might’ve let them have it for thinkin’ they were better’n me.

By this point, the blizzard had moved into the area and had put down about a half foot of snow. Our black, gold, and red battalion marched dutifully toward Soldier Field, with Canada bringing up the rear in boots so worn that they had no tread. Not ideal for the conditions, to say the least.

Kerrigan, his wife, Cap, TJ, Dupa, Swag, Canada, and I were all seated together in the next-to-last row of the stadium. The wind was coming from left to right, pelting us with snow and dragging it across our face like icy razor blades. And we were loving it, thanks to our adrenaline—and the hand warmers that Cap passed out. I probably would’ve loved it even more if I had been drunk and not feeling as much of it as I was, of course. But the atmosphere in the stadium was electric, and unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. People weren’t just excited to see their teams play; they were excited about the game. The moment captivated all. Have you ever attained consciousness during a dream, where you understand that it’s just a dream, and felt the calming peace of knowing nothing can harm you, nothing can be taken from you? For at least a brief moment, 63,000 people dreamt that dream together.

After the first period, we had our first casualties. Dupa announced that he was soaked through, and had to leave. Apparently Mr. I-live-in-the-third-world-heat-of-Houston-now had decided against wearing the outer shell of his ski tech. Stupid.

Swag went with him, as they told us they’d wait for us at the Hilton bar. Canada and I got more beers. At the second intermission, more casualties. Tennessee and his girl abandoned their seats on the other side of the stadium, and Canada abandoned ours. I waited in line for 20 minutes to get into the men’s room, and then got more beer.

As the third period got underway, my lack of thermal underwear (not that I don’t own them, I just didn’t bring them; looking back I have no clue why) meant my thighs were frozen. As was my beer, which had turned into a Bud Light slushy. TJ asked if I wanted to bail, too. Hell no. I was the only one of my Pittsburgh brethren still standing. The Pens were being easily handled on the ice, and I knew I was going to have to hear about it for the rest of the weekend. I would’ve amputated my own frostbitten leg before I would’ve handed Blackhawks fans an opportunity to add material about Pittsburghers not being able to handle Chicago weather to their impending stand-up comedy set list.

With five minutes left, the stadium PA alerted all that the north gates—which we’d come through—would be closed after the final whistle while postgame fireworks were set off. That was all the nudge we needed, and the five of us remaining in our group jumped up and headed down the long staircase to the concourse.

Cap, somehow, assumed the role of our group’s navigator as we walked from the stadium. I didn’t realize it at first, but he had not been our navigator when we walked to the stadium. This would be a bit of a problem; we quickly found ourselves in a part of Grant Park that I hadn’t seen three hours earlier. As we began crossing a field with our sights trained on the distant lights of the Hilton’s block of Michigan Avenue, I suddenly felt my foot slip on a hard surface as I planted it in the snow. “Odd,” I thought. “Why would grass be icy?” After a few more steps, I distinctly heard the sound of ice cracking.

“Wait…what are we walking on?” I got no responses. “AYO! ARE WE WALKING OVER WATER RIGHT NOW?!”

TJ: “I mean…technically it’s not water right now…”

Apparently, these four white Chicagoans found my sudden murderous rage very comical. I failed to agree. (The next day, TJ would explain that we had merely been on a retention pond, and the water below us wasn’t more than four feet deep. But for all I knew that night, I was walking across Lake Michigan.)

Once back at the Hilton, we caught up with Weatherman, GG, and their boys in the lobby. The line to get into the hotel bar had doubled, as had Weatherman and GG’s level of intoxication. Once it thawed some I was able to turn on my phone, which had shut down in the cold of the stadium. Swag and Canada finally responded to our texts, informing us that they had gone back to Tennessee’s room at the Courtyard Marriott instead of the Hilton where we were all supposed to be. Yayy… I went up to Kerrigan’s room and retrieved my bag. When I came back downstairs, Weatherman and GG had already departed for the Marriott. TJ, Fire, and the rest of their people were going to go to dinner in the area. I decided to catch a cab to the Marriott.

As we parted ways, TJ and Fire told me to tell the cabbie I wanted to go to “the Marriott River North.” I recited that phrase over and over in my head, as I stood in a very long and slow-moving line at the cab stand. It took almost 45 minutes for me to finally get into a cab. “Marriott River North,” came out of my mouth aboard a sigh of relief.

The roads in Chicago weren’t exactly clear, and even though my cabbie was driving a small SUV, he slipped and struggled in a few places as he carried me across the city. I could just feel the bemused gods toying with the idea of getting the cab stuck in the snow, and stranding me in the middle of a giant, foreign city. When we got to the Marriott I felt my shoulders relax for the first time in hours, and I started putting together thoughts on how to get myself back on the righteous path to drunkenness.

Swag had texted while I was in the cab, and told me he, Canada, Dupa, and Tennessee were in room 1225. I found my way to the 12th floor, but was at a loss when the door numbers on the odd side of the hallway went from 1219 to 1227. I retraced my steps; the rooms on the even side were all there: 1220, 1222, 1224, 1226… The fuck?

I dialed up Swag.

Swag: “Yo.”
Me: “What room did you say you were in?”
Swag: “1225.”
Me: “Why don’t I see it?”
Swag: “What?”
Me: “Man, I’m looking at these room numbers, and there’s no 1225. The rooms go to like 1219, then there’s nothing on that side again ‘til like 1227.”
Swag: “I’m pretty positive it’s 1225.”
Me: “I’m standing outside of 1224.”
Swag: “Well, I’m standing in the hallway looking at 1224, and I don’t see you, sooo…”

I was in the wrong Marriott.

There’s frustration, and then there’s being sober and alone in a new city you know nothing about, with a phone with a dying battery, barely defrosted from three hours of watching your favorite hockey team get embarrassed in an 8°F snowstorm and another 45 minutes of waiting for a cab in an 8°F snowstorm, carrying a duffel bag like you got lost on your way home from a rec league game, wandering through hotel hallways fantasizing about a magical liquid that eases the pain and makes you forget bad experiences, only to learn that the hotel you were dropped off at isn’t the one you wanted to go to.

There wasn’t a single person or thing on the planet that I didn’t want to strangle the life out of.

Google Maps was the first to get back into my good graces. If only that cabbie had heard of it. It informed me that the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, where I was taken, was only 0.3 miles from the Courtyard (Marriott) Chicago River North, where I was going. I started walking, and along the way shot off a text to TJ: “I hate your city right now.”

My rage subsided when I finally reached Marriott room 1225, and found everyone having a quiet conversation while Dupa slept (*sigh* Houston makes you sofff). Weatherman and GG’s room was just down the hall. I stopped by to share my tale and found GG ready for bed, while Weatherman was making himself Makers & Cokes.

Swag, Canada, Dupa, and I formed a new plan. It was around midnight. We’d cab it back to Fire’s, drop off Dupa and my bag, and go get properly drunk in Old Town. We went out to the street to hail a cab. It would be another hour-plus before one finally stopped for us. All I heard in my head while we waited was, “Man, fuck this town.

Eventually, while we were repeatedly failing to flag down a cab, two cars approaching the intersection collided…somehow. We hadn’t been watching, but they suddenly pulled over across the street from us. A furious young brother hopped out of the trailing car. I can only guess that the other driver had changed lanes into him, maybe. He yelled at the other car as he approached it. I reveled in someone feeling the same anger that I’d felt for most of the night, and waited for a gun to be pulled. Then he yelled for his girlfriend, in the passenger seat, to call the cops. So much for murder. “Man,” I groaned. “I was hoping I’d get to see a homicide. Would’ve made this whole night worth it.”

Back at Fire’s, we shared our various miseries with the Chicago boys, who couldn’t fathom the issues we’d run into with taxi service. They hadn’t had any trouble getting cabs all night. We were all too cold and tired to bother going back out to the bars. I sat in Fire’s recliner sober and angry, and realized I hadn't even had dinner that night.

Man, fuck this town.

[To be continued...]