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Thursday, January 29, 2009

A night out in the D

I have a friend from college who lives in downtown Detroit and recently invited me out for a night on the town... Detroit that is. So I'm thinking, ok pack your bullet proof vest and lock your doors. But seriously I was excited for the night because we decided he would take me to a few places "off the beaten path."

We started off with dinner at this Mexican restaurant in Mexican town in southwest Detroit.  When we first walk in there are a few old school arcade games in the doorway and the place is empty but there are like 9 waitresses there.  We order a couple beers and decide on the tortas (sandwiches) that are like $4 (great deal in this economy).  While waiting we get some chips and a salsa tray with like guacamole, mild salsa, chili salsa, sour cream and some other stuff.  We finish our meal and start talking about the gateway project that my friend is working on and some of the places we are going to go tonight.

The folks that we were waiting for arrive and order.

When we get done we head to Charley's (Charlie's ???) but stop at an ATM because as I'm told most of these places only take cash.  Come on, it's not a real dive bar if they take VISA right?  

We get to Charlie's.  There are 4 people total in the bar.  There are 5 of us.  It's a Friday night.

Three people are down at the end of the bar, the bartender talking to a couple.  There is another guy at the bar video game machine.  We order some beers, Pabst is the beer of choice and it comes in a can... priceless.

Right away I am singled out.  "You're not from around here."  Says the guy at the end of the bar.  He asks where I am from and I tell him I live in Royal Oak and he nods as if that's what I looked like.  He then tells all of us that we should leave if we don't want to get hurt.  The bartender assures me that she has my back.  All the while the video game dude never talks.

We hang out here for a while.  I end up beating the bartender at pool.  And then we decide to head to an even more obscure bar.  On the way out "the guy" says he likes our friend with the "P" hat ( an old school Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap).  Curious.

We head to a friendly neighborhood bar called Atkin's.  It is located in a residential area and looks like just another house.  

We get to the front door with the open sign gleaming in the window and try to open it.  It won't budge.  I pull thinking maybe I didn't see the sign, still won't open.  

I look inside and see at least one patron, back turned to me, drinking at the bar.  We pound on the door but no one comes to our aid.  Not such a friendly neighborhood bar after all.  

They must have locked up and are having some sort of after hours party for VIPs only, at 10:30pm on Friday.  So we decide to head to a classier joint down the street with the same residential feel... Aces Lounge.

Again we get to the door, again it won't open, again we knock, again no answer or help.  We turn to leave only to hear a buzzing noise... the door opens... we were buzzed in!

A younger crowd of Detroiters is found inside.  The bartender greets us with a smile as do the linoleum floors reminiscent of those in your elementary school cafeteria.  We order some beers and find a table to sit at inside.  

This place is much larger than Charlie's, complete with two pool tables and twice as many patrons, who are currently trying to figure out which suburb we are from without asking us directly.  The bouncer asks us if we know Fredo, we say no, he says, "I told you so," to the bartender.  The bartender recognizes my friend and asks if he has been here before.  He answers yes and she says to the bouncer, "I told you so."

I start explaining to my friend what an education this has been for me.  He tells me that he was really wanting to get off the beaten path tonight and I assure him he has succeeded.  He informs me that these are dive bars to the extreme and that I should not be worried.  Most of these places he discovered while working a campaign whose offices were located in this neighborhood and he has never felt threatened.  Yet I can only imagine what the reaction would be if the everyday bar patron from downtown Royal Oak were to barge into one of these fine establishments.

I will say, the next night, while waiting 20 minutes in sub zero temperatures to get in to the Black Finn in Royal Oak with no jacket... and then waiting for another 15 minutes to order a $4 beer at the bar, I was missing Charlie's and The Aces Lounge.  

Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope

I just finished reading Barack Obama's book, "Audacity of Hope" and am refreshed and rejuvinated. His take on the U.S. and our current situation seems very similar to mine and I found myself saying, "Right on!" or "Amen" to a bunch of his ideas throughout the book. I highly recommend this book to Democrats and Republicans alike. The blues will appreciate that most of the things in this book are consistent with Obama's campaign for president. I challenge the reds to argue against any of his ideas on how to fight against some of the issues we as Americans face today.

I love that he preaches self responsibility for the rich and poor alike, black and white and every color in between. Self responsibility and doing away with the "me-first" mentality is the only way we can turn America around. But, and this is a HUGE but. I think it will only work if everyone goes along with it, and there will always be those trying to get ahead, and why not? That is capitalism. I think it also goes for foreign policy as well.

Here is my fear for President Obama. In the book he talks about many instances where he must vote on an issue and he does not agree with either side and has to pick the lesser of two evils, or has to vote a certain way to avoid bad press even though it may go against his morals and values. He attributes these votes to politics in general, and confesses that his job requires him to make compromises. Stand tall Obama and be strong.

I consider myself an Independent. I do not believe in voting for politicians only because of party affiliation. But many times it can be difficult to research every candidate for every office. What do you as a blogging public recommend I do?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Willy Porter

This guy has Leo Kottke-esque guitar playing skills and a Dave Matthews-ish voice.

The LSAT is hard

It's Friday and I'm sitting here messing around on the computer, reading about Obama and his days as a lawyer and when he was in law school and thinking that I could go to law school.  

So I google "getting in to law school" and go to a page that has a practice LSAT (the test you must take to get in to law school).  Each section contains approximately 23 questions and you have 35 minutes to complete them...

I barely made it through the first section with my head intact and I did it in just under an hour and a half... and I answered 4 questions wrong!  

I don't think I'm cut out for lawyering, or maybe I should just take a course on taking the LSAT.

Has anyone out there taken the LSAT?  How did you do?  What's the secret?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A night in Chicago

I was in Chicago with my roommate visiting some friends and staying with them for the night and going out to a "free drink party" at a local Chicago bar.  

First of all I love the idea of the free drink party.  Basically, for an hour or two the bar offers all patrons free drinks to get you so drunk that you won't possibly be let in to any other bar and will likely spend your night emptying your wallet at their bar or throwing up in their bathroom or sidewalk out front.

We arrive at our friend's apartment and immediately go to the liquor store.  We come back with too much beer, too much rum and not enough Coke.  We pop the tops and start in while watching the Britney Spears movie "Crossroads."  Color commentary starts flowing like diarrhea from our mouths, the movie deserves it.

We decide to head to the free drink party and leave the apartment to get a cab or walk to the bar, I can't remember.  

We get to the free drink party and the bar is packed.  It is impossible to get to the bar to order drinks, which totally diminishes the fun of the free drinks.  

I finally make it to the bar and wave the bartendress over.  I hand her $40 and tell her that every time she sees me at the bar I want her to come over and serve me immediately.  

It works!

Soon the party gets rocking, we all have drinks, and I am performing Flashdance.

I was told the next day that we ended up leaving this bar and going to another in a cab, but to me it was all the same place.

When we get to the next bar my roommate is not allowed in, the free drink party succeeded.  He gets angry and decides he will sprint from the entrance of the new bar as quickly as he can.  I catch up with him and headlock him to make sure he stays.  

He promises not to run if I let go.  I let go, he pauses for a moment, and runs.  I give up and head back to the bar.

The next thing I remember is hailing a cab by myself, telling the cab driver the address of the apartment we were staying at and arriving at the apartment by myself.

The front door is locked and I do not have a key so I go around back, like any predator/robber would and scale an 11 foot iron fence, climb the back fire escape a al spiderman, and start kicking the back door of the apartment fireman style.  

I awake my freind's roommate who comes to the door and lets me in.  Ten minutes later my friend and the rest of the party return.  Five minutes later the police/security/rent-a-cops show up and want to arrest me, claiming I am an intruder.  My friend tells them I got locked out and everything is ok.  I go to bed not knowing where my 100 meter dash champion of a roommate is.

The next morning I get a call from my roommate that says he is at a different friend's apartment in Chicago.  He had run until he did not recognize any of the street names and then called this friend who came and picked him up.  

He gets dropped off at the apartment and we walk what seems like 5 miles to Jamba juice.

On the way home we think of starting a funny t-shirt business that we want to start.  A few examples of our best ideas...

"Alcohol saved my life."

"I cut down people, not trees."

A sleeveless shirt that says, "No sleeves, no problem."

A shirt for our friend in the Navy, "Seaman."

"Smoking... to die for!"

There were more but those are the best ones I remember.  I know there are a million online t shirt stores, but this idea was gold at the time.  Have any funny t shirt ideas, let me know!

The story of the "Insecure George"

It was a cold wintry night in February.  Two of my college buddies were in town and we headed to a bar in downtown Kalamazoo with two, maybe three girls, I can't remember.  I do know that one of them used to be a cheerleader for the Miami Heat.

We get to the bar and the girls immediately find a bar tender they know and start getting free drinks.  My buddies and I decide we will stop being idiots by getting the girls to get the bartender they know to get us free shots.  

We start doing shots.

We start playing the alphabet shot game - Start with a shot whose name begins with A.  End with a shot that begins with Z.

We start skipping around the alphabet because we can't think of shots that begin with certain letters.  

We get to "I" or "G".  I don't know.

The word "insecure" comes up and the bar tender starts to make these shots.  My friends instantly look at me and decide that we should add my name to the end of the shot.  

The "insecure George" shot is born.  Ingredients include vodka, Kahlua, Frangelica, and Buttershots.  Thanks to the bar tender for his creativity and the free shots. We continue to skip around the alphabet.

As the night goes on I end up giving my business card out to a girl, it starts snowing heavily, and we choose one of the girls to drive us home.  I get a call 10 minutes after the bar closes from the girl I gave my card to and I hang up on her.  She leaves a desperate message on my voicemail which I delete.  Needless to say we crash in to a street sign in my buddies car, the girl goes nuts and my other buddy drives us back to their place.  

An all around good night, the birth of the shot, a car accident and a great story to tell when you get toasted.  

Now every time we go out we try to get the bartender/-tendress to make us an Insecure George to remember the good times and you should too... hold the car accident please.

The Tar Pit (new alcoholic beverage)

At a holiday party late last December I was witness to the birth of a new shot.  This drink is not only fun to drink, but also fun to make.  It was invented by a couples buddies of mine and taste first-hand by me, and I loved it.

It starts with a generous portion of red wine (because we like our shots sophisticated).  It then continues with an equal portion of vodka (any vodka will do, we're in a recession).  After that add enough sprite so that bubbles come to the surface.  It finishes with a sprinkle of the chocolate dust that you put on the rim of chocolate martinis.

Now put that cup down and enjoy the show.  The sprite bubbles up but is not able to escape because of the think chocolate layer that floats on top.  This causes the chocolate to form bubbles on top of the drink making it resemble a tar pit, hence the name.

Now I know what you're thinking.  Who do you hang out with and how can I hang out with you guys?  Come to Royal Oak and we'll show you a good time, drink too much, and maybe name a shot after you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Movie Idea

I hope you have all seen a Christopher Guest movie.  These movies include Spinal Tap, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind.  They examine the hilarity that occurs in everyday life with a sort of embarrassing sadness to it.  The themes are simple, an aging rock band on a tour, a dog show or a folk tribute.  Most of the scenes are interviews of the characters where they describe their past of some aspect of their life.  These interviews are mostly ad libs by the actors or a prepared dialogue that they came up without a script.  I have a new idea for Christopher Guest and if you are reading this please bare with me

Rodeo cowboys are thrill seeking tough guys.  The last of a dying breed.  They don't ride bucking horses and bulls because they like to, they ride because they have to.  It's in their blood.  It's part of their heritage.  They are the stars of any rodeo.  But who protects these preservers of the old west?  That's right, the rodeo clown. 

With what seems like reckless abandon these clowns throw themselves in front of bucking bulls and broncos in what seems like a thankless job to keep our prized cowboys from being stepped on or gored.  Yet they do it with a flare that makes thousands of fans smirk, smile and laugh out loud.  They take our mind off the fact that there is a wild animal inside the ring and that has a rope around its privates and will stop at nothing to get it off.  

Cowboys try to stay on for 8 seconds.  Rodeo clowns have to be "on" their game for the duration of the rodeo.  Cowboys go out for a beer after the rodeo and may end up getting lucky with Lucy Lou from Omaha while the clowns go home, lick their wounds and prepare for the next rodeo.  In this highly competitive professional one has to be ready to fly across the country to clown a rodeo in a second.  

From the small time to the majors.  From Calgary to Cheyenne.  This mockumentary follows rodeo clowns new and old through a season on the rodeo tour.  We find out what it takes to become the best and why these "cross dressing guardian angels in make-up" do what they do, day in and day out.

Mr. Guest.  Please contact me if you would like to help make this dream of mine a reality.  I would very much like to find out what it is like to make a movie like this.  If not, at least admit that it's a good idea.

Friday, January 9, 2009

40oz koozy dream is dead

As you know, as early as October 2008, I had come up with the idea for an koozy for 40oz malt beverages.  Not only would they keep your Colt 45 cold to the last drop they would also allow you to express your unique personality.  

Well the word is out folks, someone has beat me to the punch.  The 40oz koozy is now available at .  Now you too can be the center of attention at your next Edward 40 Hands party with these rad accessories!  They are pretty reasonably priced as well with the average koozie going for about $7.  I have not ordered my own...yet. 

It seems that there are others out there that appreciate entrepreneurial awesomeness.

Crunch Gear

I recently was on Facebook researching old high school friends (which is what Facebook is for) and found that one of my journalism classmates is now an established tech writer/blogger for CrunchGear.  

CrunchGear is an established tech blog that is rad if you are into the latest robotics, gaming systems, mp3 players and pretty much anything that is getting awesome these days.  Also their job board has adds for jobs at .com's for positions like "Web Ninja."  

So check it out and drop my buddy a line, we'll just call him Peter H. or P. Ha to conceal his identity (sorry dude, you asked for it being famous and all).

Rad Guitar Website!

Recently one of my friends, Jeff Keen, avid guitarist and purveyor of all things awesome, started a website designed to offer free guitar lessons and advice.  The website is and is up and running right now!  Check it out and become a member (just like me).  I hope to post some cool stuff on there as soon as I take the time to figure out how to download video on to my new computer.

Right now there are a couple lessons from Jeff himself that deal with some sweet bluegrass licks. I highly recommend that all of you visit the sight!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lock it up... with friends only

Say you are out with some friends and one of your friends (most likely a girl) has brought a new friend with her (most likely a guy).  When they first come in she probably introduces him and he smiles, nods and shakes all the other dudes hands.  I understand that it is good manners to shake hands and introduce myself so I do most of the time, unless there is a huge table between us or I'm in the middle of an intense game of darts, shuffleboard, pool, etc.   

Here is where I get confused.  At the end of the night, or when your friend and her new "boyfriend" leave I will usually shake hands again, say nice to meet you and the like.  But almost always when we shake, the other person wants to lock it up with me or give me the rock too or some other thing that's more than shaking hands.  Usually I break free of these add ons early and pretend that nothing happened.  I mean I just had a few beers with this guy standing around and probably didn't say much to him other than I liked his very fashionable scarf, and now he expects me to lock it up with him like we were college roommates.  Hold the phone!
I may be off on this one but I reserve the lock up, the blow up and the rock for very few close friends.  

So next time you are out and about meeting new people don't be bullied into locking it up, blowing it up or giving the rock to someone you don't know deserves it.  Because if you do there is an uneasy feeling that comes over you like when you stole the tap at that party... don't act like you've never tried to.