Archive for the ‘Parra’s Palliatives’ Category

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

When I was seven years old my parents decided to get a divorce.  I don’t remember much of my home life from this point.  perhaps it is an emotional blackout, perhaps my seven year old brain didn’t care enough to file away those memories.  When I go to draw water from them, the well is dry.  I do remember after sometime I wanted to go live with my mother.

We moved into a well lived apartment in the on the South Side of Chicago.

Mom was free and becoming her own woman.  Myself… a pudgy slab of clay.  No direction and formless.  Scared and excited.

Cannaryville is like the negative image of Mayberry.  There are drugs and there are gangs.  There are haves and have-nots.  Sometimes the have-nots seem to out number the haves.  However, much like Mayberry, the old neighborhood also had community.  Strong bonds that stem from family and the lingering memory of what it is like to be a minority in a strange new country.  (Cannaryville is predominantly Irish American)

In what seemed like a short time to me, I went from my old neighborhood of Pilsen, where I had a few friends and seemed to know my place on the totem pole, to becoming a stranger in a strange land.  Needless to say I quickly became a shut in.

I remember walking in colorful Fall afternoons after school.  All manner of orange leaves fell like comets to Earth.

I remember the snarls of bullies.  Scraped knees and bruised fists.

After a few rounds and incidents with a few unsavory fellas I decided to give up on Me

I wanted to fit in.  I had no desire to be different.  I wanted to look like everyone else, talk like everyone else and find my niche.  I just wanted to put my head down and be ignored.

After awhile I did just that.  I stopped standing out.  I stopped talking loudly.  I shrunk like a wilting flower.  I thought I was happy.

Then with a flash.  Without warning. With little to no care of what would happen to me, a friend of my mother gave me a milk crate full of Doors paraphernalia.  Magazines, pictures, albums, posters, books and VHS tapes were haphazardly thrown into this Pandora’s box of Jim.  It’s like somehow he knew I was searching for something more than little league and pee wee football.

I don’t remember the first Doors song I heard or the first album I slipped into my CD player.  I do remember the collective feeling I got from those first few listens… that feeling was fear.  Frankly,  The Doors scared the shit out of me.  Their twisted carnival moans and Jim’s syrupy vocals were enough to make my hair stand on end.  When you’re seven-ish and you’re falling asleep to the radio serenading you and this comes on.. It might be enough to freak you out…

Over time the fear subsided and new and original ideas floated to the surface and without trying to, I began to break the mold.  Jim became somewhat of a mentor to me.  The older I grew the more my obsession grew and more importantly the less I wanted to fit in with others.

Jim was the first to turn me onto poetry, way before any teacher could sink their claws in me.  It was because of him that I first fell head over heels in love with the Beat poets

“I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless emptiness.” – Jack Kerouac

Morrison was also responsible for directing my compass toward the horizons of philosophy.  His love of Nietzsche became my love.  When I first read words like this I knew there was more than the racially divided neighborhoods of Chicago out there waiting for me

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

He was also responsible for turning me onto the Blues, which in turn sparked the idea that I could be a musician one day.  20 some odd years later I’m still strumming chords and beating rhythms out on my ragged drum set.

So how do you honor someone who has meant so much to you and literally shaped you as an artist and person?  I have no clue.  The only thing that came to mind is to tell my story and hope that it would inspire you to go search out some of those early heroes of yours and once again heed whatever message you once gleaned from them.  Even if it is only for a second, relive those afternoons when you had a hero.  Remember what it was like to not know who you are.

R.I.P

James Douglas Morrison

(December 8th, 1943 – July 3rd, 1971)

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By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

I’m sitting here waiting for the last hour to wind down on my smoked wings.  I can smell the sweet hickory in the air.  Like a sacrifice, it burns so it can feed the gods and in doing so it creates milky white apparitions in the sky.  I’m pondering now as many ticks come and go, like random city buses zagging and zigging in fog infested nights.

What is it about BBQ that stirs my soul?  What is it about fine drink that pleases me so?  I kick back and wonder.  Sounds ring out around me.  The sickening off beat rhythm of a basketball being bounced is enough to drive any time keeping drummer mad.  The random yapping of a so called dog.  I hear rim, another shot and a miss.

I try to push my thoughts out, but I am not successful.  They keep coming at me like a desecrated zombie, shambling toward me without care to injury or death.

Again it hits me.

Why am I drawn to smoked meats and strong drink?

Then a flash of inspiration!

A strong beer and good meal is community.  A stranger in a new city may only have to find the right pub in order to belong.  After the first round, he is family.  Gathering around a well kept fire and chewing on the bounty of the day is enough to raise even the most foulest of spirits.  Strangers become friends, friends become tribe and tribe lifts up to realm of spirit.

We often share stories after a few rounds of good spirits.  This is becoming rare in the modern age of internet and “all you can view” TV.  We create myth and legend around the table,  something desperately needed in a time of 24 hour “realism.”

We tend to share in a BBQ setting.  The normal selfishness of everyday life seems to melt away.  We open our homes to others.  We act, even if it is untrue, as if our bounty could never end and encourage others to take their fill, often before we’ve had our own.

We experience the outdoors in a way that most city dwellers never would.  I know as well as you do, hanging in your backyard is not exactly the great outdoors.  However, in some cases this option is all certain people are left with.

When done right, merriment in the form of liquor and good food reminds us that we are together on this rock.  Not only are we together… we are OF it.  Not the masters of it.  We are not observing it.  We are it. We are the thing.

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

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The Joints

B.B. King’s Blues Club  –  This was the first place I stopped in on my little Southern Adventure.  When I first walked in, like many places on Beale Street, there was a band already in the throes of a Blues Orgasm.  A smile stretched across my face and I thought, ok this is it!  However, I was quickly whisked away to another part of the building.  Torn from the sonic assault of the band.  I was marched up a dark staircase into a modern day speak easy.

What I didn’t know at the time is BB is hiding a fine dining restaurant on top of his kick ass juke joint.  Try the Duck and waffles, they’re to die for.

If you’re not into the fancy pants stuff head down stairs to catch an earful of blues and eat some of the best ribs I’ve ever had.  Also, your visit would not be complete without drinking a Strong Island Ice Tea and having some snacks off the  Meat and Cheese platter.

Flying Saucer – A tad bit off of Beale, this bar turned out to be the missing link in my life.  Quirky, friendly, fun, sexy (love those skirts ladies) and full of beer!  You can’t miss with this place.  It is easily in my Top 10 favorite bars of all time.  Special thanks to Courtney and Tiffany for making our first night there special, we will never forget you ladies.

The Joints to Avoid

Alfred’s – This place completely avoids the gritty/dirty South blues vibe of most of Beale and replaces it with a frat boy ambiance that is normally reserved for a college town rape-huts (AKA bars.)  Let’s put it this way, when you’re located on one of the most historically significant sites in America in terms of Blues culture, you don’t play Daughtry through the PA.

Pig – From the outside this spot looks like a for sure winner.  They even have a trophy in front window claiming to have won “Best Ribs 2003.”  Well in my opinion the fire must have went out in their smoker since then.  “Best Cold Food, Filthy Dining Room and Shit Service 2012.” is the trophy I would set aside for them.  Just cause your slogan is “Pork With an Attitude!”…doesn’t mean you should act like a dick.

Things to do When You’re Not Drunk

Rock N’ Soul Museum –   Whether you’re a hard core fan of Rock or Soul or just getting into the mix, this place is for you.  The museum does a great job of giving you a fantastic overview of the impact the Memphis music community has had on the greater music landscape from 1930-1970’s.

Sun Studios – Say what you will.  I am telling you this is the birthplace of rock and roll.  If you don’t know the history of Sun.  Stop what you’re doing… get down to Memphis and ask El Dorado to school your punk ass in the history of our rock world.  End of Story.

My Top 5 Beers

While I was slinking and gallivanting the streets of Memphis I had the pleasure of sampling over 20 different craft beers.  The list below is what i enjoyed most:

  • Green Flash, Double Stout (American Double/Imperial Stout8.80% ABV):  Jet Black, smells of chocolatey malts and tastes of coffee and a tiny bit of fudge.
  • 1516 Brewing Company, NZ Victory Hop Devil IPA (American IPA, 6.70% ABV):  Orange like amber color, smells of citrus and hops and tastes of grapefruit.  Little bit of bitter mixed with a subdued sweetness.
  • Yazoo Brewing Company, Dos Perros (American Brown Ale, 3.50% ABV):  Pours a nice brown color, smells of  nuts and toffee and tastes earthy and sweet, very light cocoa.
  • Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu, Premium Lager (Munch Helles Lager, 5.20% ABV):  Clear, straw yellow, smells of grassy hops and hints of lemon.  Tastes of bread like malt.
  • Yazoo Brewing Company, Sue (American Porter, 9.00% ABV):  Pours black as night, smells of smoke and tastes the same.  I absolutely adore this beer!
By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative
Before you read a single word of this article you must watch the video first.  Absolutely no exceptions.

Now that you have been injected with Mr. Cage’s madness let me explain to you what this is all about.  I hate drinking games.  I despise them in fact.  Just the idea of a bunch of sweaty douchey frat pack assholes packed around a table trying to throw tiny balls into a cup is enough to send me into a rage.  You don’t need a reason to drink, other than the fact that alcohol has not touched your lips in quite sometime.  With that being said, I’m about to do something that you should be used to in your life, let you down.

How you ask?

I invented a drinking game.  Not only did I invent a drinking game, I invented a drinking game that requires you to view, dare I say experience, the greatest movie ever committed to celluloid.  Vampire’s Kiss is beyond a mere master piece.  It is a pure concentrate of artistic brilliance.  Artists strive their whole lives to be able to cultivate the intangible ether of life, some fail and some succeed.  Vampire’s Kiss is one of those successes.  This only BEGINS to describe Vampire’s Kiss. 

I can see it in your face now.  You’re intrigued.  Great let’s move on.

“YOU GOTTA HAVE RULES AND YOU GOTTA HAVE DISCIPLINE” – SEAN NOKES
Below is a flexible list of rules on how to play our little game.  Remember you should look upon these rules as a guideline not a Bible, Koran, Tora or Maxim Magazine.  Please feel free to make up your own house rules or modify the listed rules however you see fit.  In fact if you do modify something, send me an email (rp@99sportsproblems.com) I’d love to read it.
  1. Acquire a copy of Vampire’s Kiss.  It’s pretty fucking pointless if you don’t.
  2. Stock up, depending on the amount of players, on the cheapest crap beer you can find.  However, do spend the money on a nice bourbon.  As much as you can afford.
  3. Argue until you figure out who “The Doctor” is.  I find yelling the loudest usually wins.
  4. Every player must have a beer and one shot in front of them.  Except for “The Doctor”.  She has to have two shots and a beer in front of her at all times.
  5. A “drink” consists of a 3 second duration.  Count in your head, “One Mississippi, Two Mississippi… etc.”  Players accused of cheating must immediately take a shot.  More than one player calling you out is all the evidence needed.  Oh and in the words of Mr. Laux, “Quit bitching and take your shot.”
  6. Any time you hear Peter Loew’s accent change take a drink.
  7. During any doctor scene, “The Doctor” can hand out her medicine (one shot) to any player, unless said player yells out “Maria Conchita Alonso” before the shot is placed in front of them.  This phrase must be said PERFECTLY, if not player takes the shot.  If the player says the phrase correctly  “The Doctor” takes the shot.  No matter what the outcome the targeted player now becomes the doctor.
  8. If Peter takes a drink you take a drink.
  9. Every time Peter says “Alva” take a drink.
  10. Every time you see Rachel the Vampire take a drink.
  11. Every time you hear “Rattle Snake Hills” take a shot.
  12. During the “ABC’s Scene” and “I’m a Vampire! Scene” drink until Peter stops screaming.
  13. Every time the word “file” or “misfile” is said take a drink.
  14. Every time Peter says “Too Late” take a drink.
  15. Every time Peter says “I’m a Vampire” take a drink.
  16. Every time Peter chatters his fake teeth take a drink.

Alva, there is no one else in this entire office that I could possibly ask to share such a horrible job. You’re the lowest on the totem pole here, Alva. The lowest. Do you realize that? Every other secretary here has been here longer than you, Alva. Every one. And even if there was someone here who was here even one day longer than you, I still wouldn’t ask that person to partake in such a miserable job as long as you were around. That’s right, Alva. It’s a horrible, horrible job; sifting through old contract after old contract. I couldn’t think of a more horrible job if I wanted to. And you have to do it! You have to or I’ll fire you. You understand? Do you? Good.

Find Me Here:

rp@99sportsproblems.com

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By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

You stand up and head over to the dart board.  You see her.  Purple top, tight jeans and stupid Zooey Deschanel glasses.  Immediately you begin to ask your self why chicks think guys want to bang Rivers Coumo from Weezer?

I'm the New Girl!

Back down to the jeans… you get over the glasses.

Should you approach?

Should you try one of your Pick Up Artist Techniques that you learned from the TV?  Let’s see, there was something about insulting her best qualities, peacock my values in her face… then we bang like weird monkeys at 3AM in the parking lot of White Castle, AFTER she gets me the double chee meal.  Also, the creepy chicken rings with the powder ranch on them.

Before you notice what you’re doing, you’re walking toward her.  The sounds of Rob Bass echos out of the juke box and into the very fillings of your teeth.  This is it.  This is your movie scene where you say something witty and cute:

You slur, “WAN eh beard.. I meaan a beer?”
“What?” she says, puzzled.
“Yoo wand a beer?”
“Sure, I’d love one.”
“What do pretty girls like?”
“Surprise me!”

You carefully turn around, making sure not to fall over. You neatly make your way to the bar.  However, the panic has already sunk it’s teeth into your neck.  Surprise me?  Surprise me?!  What does that mean?  IPA?  Amber Ale?  Miller Lite?  Guinness?

I’m your friend out here pilgrim, so relax my well inebriated friend.  I’m here to help.  I know what you want.   You want to appear to be different.  You want the beer to do the talking for you.  Impress her.  Help you break the ice.  You want your beer to be suave and sophisticated, yet relaxed and non-rapist like.  Most importantly,  you don’t want your beer to be boring!  Below are five beers that maybe you have never heard of that will delight and impress your muse.

Beers:

Lips of Faith Series – Cocoa Mole

Taste: If you are Hispanic I’ll explain it like this,  It tastes like Abuelita’s recipe for spicy mole.  If not, imagine a chocolatey ale lightly seasoned with chile peppers then topped with a tad of cinnamon.  This beer screams summer!  Perfect for a beer garden experience that you will never forget.  Not too heavy, not too spicy, not too sweet… pretty much New Belgium hit the nail on the head with this one!

Stats: Brewed By New Belgium,  9.00% ABV, Chile Beer

Headwaters Pale Ale

Taste:  We were drinking this during the latest episode of our podcast and it’s what I like to call a work horse beer.  You can literally have this every day and never get sick of it.  Deep in Color. Crisp. Light. Little bit of grapefruit and nice and hoppy.

Stats: Brewed by Victory, 5.10% ABV, American Pale Ale.

Zombie Dust

Taste:  I went to the store.  Took out my credit card.  Bought a nice princess cut diamond ring.  Got back to the bar and tried to marry this beer.  She said maybe.  I adore this beer, nice orange body, hints of grapefruit and tobacco. Excellent.

Stats:  Brewed by Three Floyds, 6.20% ABV, American Pale Ale.

Rince Cochon

Taste: This machine is running clean.  Very carbonated.  Little Fruity.  Subtle Belgian style hops.

Stats: Brewed by Brouwerij, Roman N.V., 8.50% ABV, Belgian Strong Pale Ale.

120 Minute

Taste: This ain’t your daddy’s IPA, mainly cause your dad probably likes shit beer like Bud Light.  I absolutely love this beer.  However, you must respect it.  It packs a serious punch.  Malty, almost barely wine-ish.  Tons of hops. It’s a complex beauty.

Stats: Brewed by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, 18% ABV, American Double/Imperial IPA

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

The Lifeblood

You are it.  You are the thing that stands between a great night and a bad night.  You are the gatekeeper and in those bottles behind you are all the keys to all the kingdoms.  “How do you keep from being a shitty bartender?” you ask.  Below are some tips and advice from yours truly:

Don’t Sweat the Technique:

First, lets take you through a few moves to add to your arsenal.

  • Chilling a Glass – If you have the room try to store your glassware in a freezer or refrigerator.  If you do not have the room, it’s cool don’t frown, all you have to do is fill your glass with ice and water.  All the way to the point of no return… Once that is finished start to prepare the cocktail.  Grab your chilled glassware, pour out the ice and water, pour in your completed cocktail.  There you have it, one chilled glass.

  • Shaking –   If you truly want to be a master of mixology you need to learn when and how to properly use your shaker.  Shakers come into play if the cocktail you are making contains:  fruit juice, milk, eggs, cream, horseradish or any other thick ingredients.
  1. Fill the glass half of your Boston Shaker with 2/3 ice.
  2. Add the other ingredients.
  3. Place the glass half down, place the metal half on top and hit the metal end make sure it is firmly locked in.
  4. Make sure the metal half is down.
  5. Bring the shaker, one hand on the glass half the other on the metal, to the side of your head.  Shake vigorously for 10-20 seconds.
  6. Finish the process with the metal cup on the bottom.
  7. Rap the side of the shaker where the two cups meet to open it.
  8. Fit the inside of the metal cup with a Hawthorne Strainer, hold in place with your index finger, strain your chilled concoction into your hopefully already chilled glass.
  9. Enjoy.

Let’s try your new skills out:

Scottish Side Car

2 1/2 ounces scotch
1/2 ounce triple sec
1 ounce orange juice
Pour all ingredients into a shaker 2/3 full of ice cubes.  Shake well. Strain into a chilled Cocktail glass.
  • Muddling  Clearly this activity requires a…. wait for it… A MUDDLER!  Also, it would be wise to use a sturdy glass when performing this little diddy.  You definitely do not want to use grand ma mas fine China for this.  Place the ingredients at the bottom of the glass.  Use the flat end of the Muddler to smash vigorously.  So let’s try this little skill out:

Mojito

6 to 8 fresh mint leaves
3/4 ounce simple syrup
half a lime cut into smaller wedges
2 ounces light rum
2 ounces club soda
lime wedge for garnish
Place the mint leaves, simple syrup, and lime wedges in the bottom of a High Ball glass, MUDDLE WELLFill the glass with crushed ice.  Add the rum and club soda.  Stir briefly.  Add the lime wedge garnish.
  • Blending  If there is no stated ice amount in the recipe, fill the blender no more than half with ice.  Add ingredients.  Cover (duh.)  Pulse and blend.  Listen closely for the sound of the blender to change.  Puree until lumps are gone!  DO IT!:

Rum Runner

2 ounces Bacardi 151 proof rum
1 1/2 ounces blackberry brandy
1 ounce creme de banane
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
splash of grenadine
lime wedge for garnish
Pour in all the liquid ingredients into blender.  Add 4-6 ice cubes.  Blend and pulse until smooth.  Pour into wine goblet.  Add lime garnish.
 
  • “Salting” a Glass –  There is nothing worse than ordering a margarita and having half a cup of salt in it.  This little tip will help you not suck at garnishing drinks with dry ingredients.  First, you want to take your dry ingredients like salt, cocoa powder, nutmeg etc.. and put them in individual salt shakers.  Next, coat the OUTSIDE of the glass only with either your fruit of choice or a little bit of spirits soaked in a paper towel.  Take the coated glass over a sink and sprinkle your desired ingredient.  BOOM… FACED:

Margarita

Kosher Salt
Lime Wedge
3 ounce white tequila
2 ounces of Cointreau or triple sec
1 ounce fresh lime juice
Prepare the glass… the right way.  Pour all ingredients into a shaker 2/3 full of ice.  Shake well.  Strain into prepared glass.
 

So there you have it folks.  I hope some of you learned something today.  The rest of you… continue to be savages in world of gentleman and fine quaffed ladies.

Missed Part One?  It’s Right Here!

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

We have all dreamed of opening a bar.  You usually get the bug right after the credits to Cocktail roll at 2 in the morning and you were too wasted to get up and grab the remote.  Now you may not have the scratch to go out and buy a building and start building your empire, but you may have room in the dining room or living room to set up a little home bar.  Below is a list of tools, tips and recipes to get you on your way.  Now please enjoy part one of The Home Bar.

Tools of the Trade:

Here is a list of tools that you will need to make any concoction that you can ever dream of, some of these are more important than others, it just depends how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.

  • Bar Spoon:  This little dude is long, has a twisted shaft and is adorned with a tear drop liked spoon.  I know what you’re thinking ladies, but this is specifically for making drinks.  Pretty handy for stirring with one hand.
  • Bar Towels:  Cleaning up messes and shining the glassware.  It’s always good to have a few of these bad boys laying around.
  • Blender:  Love daiquiris and margaritas?  Well then you’ll need one of these puppies.  If you can afford it go with a nice metal one instead of plastic.
  • Boston Shaker:  The essential tool for cocktail mixing.  It consists of two cups, one metal and the other glass.  The metal cup is placed over the glass and the two are then shaken until the mixture inside has been fully incorporated.  When you separate the two halves, if poured from the metal cup use a Hawthorne strainer, if pouring from the glass cup use a julep strainer.
  • Bottle Opener:  Well…. yeah.  (Using a lighter to open a bottle is also an option, if you’re a mac daddy pimp and know how to do it.)
  • Can Opener:  You know it.. you’ve used it.
  • Champagne Stopper:  You don’t want your bubbly to go flat… this guy will help you.
  • Church Key:  If you don’t want to go with just a bottle opener you can get down with one of these little buddies.  The pointy end can be used to pierce the top of tomato or coconut juice cans.
  • Juicer or Citrus Reamer:  Who wouldn’t want fresh OJ for their Mimosas?
  • Citrus Stripper and Zesters:  Into making fancy garnishes or adding that potent zest to bring out the flavor of a cocktail?  Then you’ll definitely need one of these.
  • Coasters or Cocktail napkins:  Do you respect wood?  Well we do.  Don’t leave those unsightly water stains on your bar and don’t let your friends do it either.
  • Cocktail Picks: For picking up garnishes… don’t use your fingers… bunch of savages in this town… I swear.
  • Corkscrew: Absolutely essential tool for opening corked bottles.  If you don’t know what a corkscrew is… you probably should not be drinking.
  • Cutting Board: You have to have a clean place to cut up your garnishes.
  • Glass Pitcher:  For storing juices or punches that you have created.
  • Ice Bucket: This little guy is vital.  Almost everything you will create will involve ice.  No one wants to be running back and forth from the ice maker to the bar every time you want to make a cold drink.  Save yourself the running game.
  • Ice Scoop: No one wants your filthy hands on their ice.
  • Jigger: Usually metal, hour glass shaped device that usually has a 1 once measure on one side and a one and a half once measure on the other side.  However, they do make different types of jiggers so make sure to check yours.
  • Muddler:  Usually a wooden and pestle shaped.  This nifty dude is used to crush ingredients at the bottom of a glass.
  • Cocktail Straws:  Used for mixing your drink in the glass and sipping.
  • Speed PourersA removable pouring spout that allows the bartender to pick up bottles and pour immediately.  It is also the essential element used for “count pouring” which we will discuss in the later sections of this article.
  • Strainer:  There are two types available for bars.  A Hawthorne Strainer and a Julep strainer.

Now, that’s not too bad of a list is it.  In fact you probably have most of these things already buried in a junk drawer somewhere.  So what’s next?  Well, what are you going to serve all these lovely drinks in?

Glassware:

There are over two dozen different types of glassware that you can stock your bar with, however before you run out and buy a new collection of stuff think about how much entertaining you actually do.  How many times a month do you entertain?  On average how many peeps do you usually have over?  What are the tastes of your guest?  For instance, if you don’t find that you and your scumbag friends drinking too many glasses of champagne, don’t go buy a dozen champagne saucers.  Below is a list of bare minimums to get the party cracking.

  • Beer Glass or Mug 16-20 oz
  • Pilsner Glass 10-20 oz
  • All Purpose Wine Goblet 8-14 oz
  • Champagne Flute 6-9 oz
  • Cocktail Glass 4-12 oz
  • Collins Glass 8-14 oz
  • Shot Glass 1-3 oz
  • Rocks Glass 5-6 oz

The Home Bar Part Two: Tame the Beast!

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

Everyone has that one friend, pal, amigo or knucklehead in their life that seems to be stuck in perpetual devil horned bliss.  He couldn’t tell you about the state of the country. However, if you wanted to know every amalgam of every Metal/Hard Rock band since 1970, he could oblige you.  In detail and with NO QUARTER spared  (See what I did there?).  You’re getting the picture now.  You can see the image of his face beginning to form in your mind.  As hard as you try not to, you can still see his sleeveless t-shirts…

Manowar?

Venom?

Pantera?

Flames and voluptuous half naked women dance on the black fabric background.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t remember the wardrobe perfectly, cause they are all the same.  You’re smiling now and thinking of the great times you’ve shared… Axl Rose inspired shouting sessions in your Mom’s Old Buick, you know the one that smelled like spoiled milk and burnt out brain cells.  Also, the time you destroyed the local jocks in an all you can drink Jägermeister competition.  Metallica would have been so proud of you.

As that goofy smile fades you begin to think, “What ever happened to that guy?  I don’t see him much any more.  I could use another night like that!”

I know what you’re saying.  Well smarty pants Raul…. where would YOU go to double fist booze and head bang till you concuss yourself.  Well fear not, after you’re done tracking that Goober down, I have the perfect bar for y’all.

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Lock Down Bar and Grill (1024 N. Western Ave, Chicago Il, 60622, 773-451-lock) is the ideal place for you two Bro’los to drink some beer and share the story about the chick you were both sleeping with in high school (“Dude!  I swear I didn’t know!”).  Unless you’re a filthy Communist and you hate America you probably love burgers and BOY HOWDY does Lock Down deliver.

Running up and down the menu, my finger anxiously scanned for a familiar face.  I saw some words that I recognized, cheeseburger and mac and cheese.  However, they all seemed to have mutated into a more powerfully delicious monster of culinary dominance.  I began to sweat.  Surely a drink would calm my nerves.  A sultry eyed beauty (Thanks Katie!)  rewarded me for my lack of moxie and brought me a cold one. Bürger Beer is like PBR’s hotter, younger and less STD infested cousin.  I sucked it down in what seemed like one gulp and turned my mind back to the problem at hand.  My stomach was screaming that is was empty.

Then I saw it.

Or maybe it saw me.

It extended it’s sweaty jewelry encrusted hand from beyond the two dimensional world of the menu and gripped my throat until I croaked out, “I’ll have a Big Elvis.”

“The Big Elvis” is a 10 oz burger, charbroiled to juicy perfection, topped with slightly melted peanut butter and caramelized bananas.  If that isn’t enough to make you go from six to midnight, the crispiest of bacon ever makes an appearance as well, dropped down on The King’s crown like propaganda pamphlets spouting delicious swine rhetoric.  You couldn’t have paid me to stop smiling.

Oh, I wouldn’t dare forget to mention the green onion, bacon and bread crumb infused Mac and Cheese.  Kraft ain’t got shit on you Lock Down.  They call it MAC and cheese for a reason.  Cause you Mac’d on Kraft’s girl, stole her, and afterwards made Kraft OFFER you his shoes and made him hold your pocket.  Pimp shit.

“Holy Flat Screen TVs Batman!” I blurted out with greasy bits of burger flying onto the table.

Why so many?  I thought.

There must have been at least a dozen TV’s beaming at me.  For a moment my imagination ran away from me.  Had I unknowingly strolled my way into a Project MKULTRA inspired testing center, where nefarious dudes used subliminal messages peppered in metal and hard rock DVDs to convince me to kill a pop star of their choosing?  Would I leave this place and jump on the nearest plane, purchase a gun from absent toothed Hill William at a Swamp O’ Rama, then find Chris Brown and shoot him in his face?

Nah.  These nice folks just love their music.  Also, I might be losing my mind.

They didn’t go cheap on the sound system either.  Every thunderous uttering of the kick drum was heard loud and clear.  The crispy high end voice of the guitars soared like mythical thunder birds from the inner sleeve of your withered and semen stained copy of AD&D.  They nailed the virtual concert experience for sure.

My belly was full.  My beer can empty.  My senses battered from rock and/or roll. What else could a red blooded American male want?  The answer is nothing.

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

I want to root for Brixie’s (9526 W Ogden, Brookfield, IL, 1.708.387.0050). I really do. Any bar that has the cojones to have 32 different craft beers on tap and over 40 some-odd beers in bottles and cans, deserves to be applauded in my book.

However, like most modern bars that I have been encountering lately, they are going through an identity crisis.

Is it a classic Bar and Grill? Their kitchen is capable of delivering scrumptiously juicy burgers and crispy hand cut fries, if it’s open and if they have a cook employed at the moment. Sometimes it seems as if Bobby Fischer mans the grill in the kitchen, I’m always searching for him. Which is a shame because I want to be stuffing a Brixie Burger into my already french fried greased mouth. Alas, it seems as if the proprietors of this sagging establishment are putting me on a forced diet that could have only come from the depths of a Nazi’s brain. You are only allowed to smell the fryers and grill top wafting the spirits of meals past into the air, don’t ask for one; or the Gestapo will come round back and kidnap you!

Is it a sports bar? They have TVs and a projection screen and they use these devices to display sporting events. Yet, certain bartenders tend to play their music through an Ipod during sporting events, instead of the game audio. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to experience the horrible hippie, trip hop, first wave of ska bullshit that said bartender plays. It’s awful, it sounds as if Dave Mathews is shitting on Bob Marley in a reverb chamber and the Sex Pistols are running the sound board.

Look, I am a musician and I have been in plenty bands, I had to learn from experience. Music is a lot like religion, if you are not already into it, no one wants a stranger shoving it their face like chloroform soaked rag. People like what they like. No one at a bar cares what the bartender is “in to.” Especially if you’re there to watch “the game.”

Side note: If you are in a band and you’re fortunate enough to have stumbled across our world changing Blog, hear me and hear me well. Never grace the stage at Brixie’s. Their lack of basic acoustic knowledge transforms you into a low-fi 8 track tape playing out of a Omni, inside of Osama Bin Laden’s cave of death, moments before the Seals dropped down and gave him the old “What For”. It’s basically a giant cave that swallows vocals, thins out guitars and makes drums sound like tin cans.

Anywho… I digress.

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Is it a place to check out cool and interesting craft brews? It certainly could be. I didn’t stutter, mainly because that’s impossible to do in print, 32 DIFFERENT CRAFT BEERS… 32 cervezas artesanales diferentes … XXXII VARIIS ARS BEERS. Someone clearly loves to get their beer on. However, where is that person? Besides having the latest brew shoved in my face, it’s rare that I would have a single conversation with a bartender (Save Bruce) about the complexities of… let’s say… a stout. I almost always feel lost when I approach the altar of beer that is their tap selection. I wish I had a Phantom Beer Genius there to hold my hand and tell me:

Phantom Beer Genius: “Everything is going to be ok… here hold this Dog Fish Head 120 Minute…. feels good right? Go on take a sip. Did you know that 120 Minute IPA is brewed to a colossal 45-degree plato, boiled for a full two hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month and aged for another month on whole-leaf hops!”

Raul: “Wow, this is delicious and you are so imformative thank you so much.”

Phantom Beer Genius: “No problem Raul, this is my job and I enjoy it. By the way, knock knock…

Raul: “Who’s there?”

Phatom Beer Genius: ” Your friend the Phantom Beer Genius and I’ll always be here for you.”

Doesn’t that sound amazing?

So am I dissing the Bro’s over there by da Brixie’s? Kinda… but kinda ‘nah. I think it is just suffering from a symptom of the times. Bars trying to cater to every single type of drinker out there instead of letting their freak flags wave high.

If you want to be the bro bar with college games blarring over the TV’s and people still pretending to be in their mid to late 20’s, tongue banging jello shots into their suck holes while simultaneously taking stock of their GHB stash in the cut out hole of their Birkenstocks. Go for it.

Do you want to be that creepy Mexican bar on the corner next to the Botanica, that you’re white friends are scared to go in because they play “Mariachi Music” till 3 a.m. and they heard everyone in there has a knife? Go for it.

Have aspirations of being the bar with no sign? Serving traditional, Post-Civil-War… yet Pre-Yoko-Beatles-Era Martinis? Go for it!

Just whatever you are or trying to be.. be true and pick SOMETHING. You can’t do everything or at least you can’t do everything well. Give your bar a personality and hopefully that personality is akin to you and your staff members. Your patrons want to be a part of your story, now give us the plot so we can play along.

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

Out of my side vision (for you Kat Williams fans) I spy him,  barb wire tat, mesh trucker hat with some ironic slogan on it (“I’m with stupid… and it’s your mom).  He proudly slides another dollar into the internet juke box.  I can’t see what he’s typing.  I can only imagine the auditory onslaught I am about to feel.  The over produced voice of Ke$ha… the weak one syllable rhyme schemes of Mr. West (Best, Rest, Crest…. Chest.), or Nickelback.  Just Nickelback, that’s its own insult.  In the future we will be saying things like, “Loser? Dudes a Nickelback…”

The Bro waddles back to his own babbling tribe.  I over hear the word ‘Bomb’ with a idiotic mumbled prefix in front of it.  I just realized I am at a Bro Bar.  There are Heineken signs on the wall.  Another brightly colored advertisement informs me that if I bring my own fishbowl on Thursday nights… they’ll fill it with any color alcohol I choose for only $10.50.   I bury my face in my drink and try to sip the last of my $12 ‘craft beer’…. “bro… they’re leinenkugel fireside nut brown ales…. killer.”.

I glance up.  The Bro Bunch is singing now and when I see the dude with the wallet chain and Affliction t-shirt reach for his Skol Dip, I make a run for it.  I jut passed something that looks like a Snooki and narrowly avoid the skinny jean-skateboarder-rapper-graphic designer-t shirt maker-blogger-DJ-I listened to Dub Step first- dude.  Through the door now I see street lights and hear traffic.

I’m walking across a frozen tundra of urban desolation. There are buildings and structures and there seem to be shapes moving in them.  Bumbling potato sack people grasping at brightly colored shapes.  Strip malls abound.  They’re exactly that, STRIP malls,  they have stripped my glorious town of personality and integrity.  Were does a modern man seek adventure?  Where can he boast of his tales?  Is there no mead hall fit for his songs of victory and iniquity?  These thoughts swirled around in my head, colored smoke that seemed obscure my vision.  Here I was on the famed Route 66… and I was bored and disgusted with my surroundings.

Just then, without warning or notice, the smell hits me.  The sweet and sappy smell of hardwood burning in the distant ink black night…. chicken flesh being charred to absurd level deliciousness.  A smile creeps across my face.  I just realized what I have been missing.  It was calling to me… beckoning me.  I will obey.

The front of Cigars and Stripes (6715 Ogden Ave, Berwyn, Il, 60402) is unassuming enough, unless of course you walk passed on one of the nights were the 8ft Frankenstein’s Monster is hanging out in front… smoking his stogie.  If that’s enough to scare you off, you will miss all of the smoked BBQ glory that awaits you inside.  If Dracula had a frat house… this is it.  Colored lights pour their saccharine slime on beer bottles and the slithering rapscallions that occupy every inch of the halo shaped bar.  Neon lights extend their icy grip across the haggard floor, itching to grab a boot or perhaps a leather high heel.  As your eyes drift to and fro… up ward and on ward… you will spy many a curious object.  Skulls, half naked women, a velvet Elvis painting and a myriad of other strange relics.  You have some how peeled back the fabric of space/time and peered into the very soul of a tricked out hot-rod.

THIS is a bar.

The heart of that bar? A collection of craft beers at your drinking disposable and the most succulent BBQ you have every dreamed of, you get the impression this was put together for just for  you.  Carefully selected with the utmost care to ensure maximum beer orgasm.  It’s hard to imagine that just a decade ago Cigars and Stripes was a place to just pick up your stogies and hot sauce.  If you were lucky enough to own a low rider or hot rod,  you could take care of all your custom paint jobs as well.  Ronnie Lottz (the ring leader of The Cigars and Stripes circus, AKA Bar Owner), might very well be Berwyn’s only Renaissance Man.  His bio reads like a man walking the line of artisan and mad man.  Custom Car illustrator, BBQ specialist, one time Professional Wrestling manager and now illustrious bar owner.  I know what you are thinking, what do these past occupations have in common and how could they lead to creating the ideal night spot?

According to Mr. Lottz, each one of those past lives played an indispensable role in the creation of C&S.  When you hear him reminisce about hanging with his wrestlers on the west side of Chicago and traveling across the country getting a first hand education on BBQ, you can literally see the spark in his eye.  That spark indicates a deep love for what he is doing… and no one does it better.

“Good food is culture… not technique…” he says.

That’s exactly what Ronnie and his staff are doing, creating their own culture to share with the world and in this world of five dollar foot longs, cardboard pizza, ice cold chicken wings from B-Scrubs and stale seven dollar Miller Lites.. we need you more than ever Mr. Lottz.

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