Posts Tagged ‘90s’

It was almost fitting and poetic that the morning would start this way. My eyes bulged out of my skull, and in between the pounding headache and a head full of questions that have yet to have answers, I heard the faint sounds of morning sports talk radio emanating from a strange room nearby.

It was standard fare that you hear on most mornings. The Bulls won. Rose didn’t play. Blackhawks won. Rondo is an alien-looking fuck. For some odd reason I thought about baseball season too. Garza this and Garza that. And then the sports talk radio started to seem louder.

Where was I? What is the meaning of this madness, I thought. And as the morning fog began to clear, and the jogging of the memory started, I realized where I was.

“Fuck. This is Berwyn. I know it. I can feel it by the pounding headache and the empty feeling in my wallet. This has to be Berwyn,” I thought.

It was Berwyn. For good or ill. And now that I think about it, that sports talk radio was there last night too when I was tucking myself into bed. In fact, what the fuck is it with this sports radio? Jesus, give it a rest sometimes. People are trying to sleep. Number crunching should be done in the morning, for fucks sake.

One of the creators of Chicago, A Drinking Town with a Sports Problem let me crash at his place and left the 670AM The Score radio on at a loud volume throughout the night. I guess the man was absorbing vital statistics and you have to admire that type of commitment to sports. Hunter S. Thompson used to have the CNN on blaring 24-7 because he was absorbing politics and news. Sports news is not any different. It is important. In some circles.

And I started to question what I would be listening to if I had that type of passion. Probably porn non-stop, but that would start a weird relationship with my neighbors. You’d be throwing out the garbage and your neighbor would look at you strange. Either women are getting their kicks there, or some kind of an explicit pornographic gauntlet is happening. Yikes.

“No it’s a religious thing. They’re Sufis. I don’t know anything about it, do you?  Or maybe they are Catholics? They are always saying that ‘God, they are coming.’ I called a travel agent, but the weird vibe I got ended the conversation. They are packing their bags, I think, so the noise will subside soon. Either that, or I’ll get some headphones. Welcome to America,” I think I would say. There is nothing like friendly conversation when you’re throwing out the garbage.

But back to the matter at hand. The guys at A Drinking Town threw an official party on Feb. 16 in order to celebrate Michael Jordan’s birthday at Cigars and Stripes, 6715 W. Ogden Ave., in Berwyn. The real reason was to drink massive amounts of booze, but that’s just my opinion.

From all my visits to the City of Berwyn, only one thing is certain. This will not be a sober trip. Chances of something going awry are always possible and you would be a fool to assume that this would be smooth sailing.

Either way, the party that the boys threw at Cigars and Stripes was quite awesome. No pretentious bullshit here. Just good times. Good food. Good place. Good vibes. Good people.

Stripes is the type of a bar that the Cheers bar would have been like if you added fucking Rock ‘N’ Roll music, that Devil-may-care attitude, and of course, that wonderful selection of brews that you can’t get at any of the pretentious Hey-I-want to charge $10 for a fucking beer places you see in River North. Sometimes you need places like that when you want to impress some date, but other than that, no drink on Earth should cost that much. Unless you put some hot celebrity’s tits in it, I don’t want to pay that much for a whiskey sour.

Since the theme of the party was Jordan’s birthday, the sponsors tried to accommodate by attempting to show “Space Jam.” Of course, despite some technical difficulties, the movie started with Serbian subtitles. It would have been better if the subtitles were Croatian because then you could make a case that this was Toni Kukoc’s copy of the film. Hey, we were celebrating the 90s.

Serbian or not, I never realized how childish the movie was. But what do you expect from a movie starring the Looney Tunes? “Space Jam” still kicks ass in its own way. Frankly, because of the Quad City DJs.

And as loony as things got, the party proved to be a success. You have to admire a place that sells cigars and then lets you smoke them in the back of the bar in the open air. No bullshit here. I admire that. God only knows that there are places that sell you something that you can’t enjoy on the premises. We’ll call these places downtown money drains. Effete smoke shops. Righteous porn stores. Non-drinking strip clubs.

Lost that loving feeling?

Don’t fret. Even though the concept of a bar is to sell a hangover, the Drinking Town would like to go a step up above whining about the ordeal and offer some tips on how to deal with the alcoholic bullet that you shot into your fucking face last night. Who knows, maybe you got laid too, and are trying to cope together.

So if the roots haven’t settled yet, here are some tips on beating that hangover, brother.

  1. Drink more. Some people frown on it. We call those people pussies. Or gainfully employed people. Sure, as bad as that parched throat is, there is nothing better than having a beer to cure that malady. Any beer, if you can that is. No one recommends going to work operating on alcoholic beverages. This is not “Mad Men.” This is life. Save it for the weekend. Or don’t. Take a belt of the coffin varnish right now. Who is stopping you? Your boss? Tell him that you had a lot of money wagered on last night’s game and like an idiot, you bet AGAINST the Blackhawks.
  2. Bloody Mary. The God of drinks for a hangover. The Mary will provide you with the nutritional nourishment you need. Tomato is good for you. Vodka is good for you, according to some Polish circles. And that celery stick can be used as a shoehorn in case you need to put your shoes on in order to drive the kids to school.
  3. Eggs. Anything with eggs will help. You can have eggs with aspirin. Or aspirin with eggs. Whatever is better. Get a bagel involved into the affair and you have a relationship that only water or tea can ease. Tell them that if those sunny-side-up eggs end up slimy and undercooked again that you would never visit the establishment again. The economy is bad. People should take pride in their work.
  4. Work. Nothing like manual labor to sweat out the small stuff. If you’re reading this then you’re probably a man who feels the need to dig a hole or something for nothing. Just because. Do it. Dig a hole, fix a cabinet, mop the floor, change the oil on your car. Nothing like work to beat the hangover. Soundtrack should be classic rock. Ya know, to feel American.
  5. Sleep. There’s no denying the inevitable. You’re fucking tired. Go to sleep. Unless work is bogging you down, and for many it is not in this economy, go to sleep and enjoy your day off. Watch the shows that are on during the day time in between naps. Ya know, the classic shows like Maury. Or Jerry. And see how fucked those people are. It will make you feel better either way. “He didn’t mean to hit me, he’s a goo-ood man, don’t take him away. I fell asleep in the driveway and he run over my head with the truck. He’s a goo-ood man, he don’t mean no harm. He’s passed out under the trailer right now with his dog Skinner.” – Bill Hicks.

Some of these may sound bitter, but they are not. They are right on par with how you feel when you are hungover after a great party. And while the good times may have passed, and the body is starting to say no, just remember that there will always be a new game, the next game and a new chance at the plate, when the winner or loser will either sock it out of the park or eat it in the dugout. Yes, sports are important. Go play, fans.

But don’t think that this story doesn’t have a happy ending. Remember when I said that only a fool would think that Berwyn is smoothing sailing? Apparently the street-sweeping rules apply on Fridays. And that parking ticket only reinforces my belief in Murphy’s Law. Hey, kudos to the gentlemen police officers that took the time and effort to place the ticket next to my village of whatever sticker at 3 a.m. It was like one municipality talking to another. “Hey, we give out as many tickets as you do too!”

But hell, it was a good time in Berwyn, and as Thompson always said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

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The main guys at Chicago, A Drinking Town With a Sports Problem have been preparing for their Michael Jordan party for some time now, and in lieu of that cultural event designed to celebrate “His Airness'” birthday two weeks from now, I thought that we take a trek down memory lane to a time when many of us were still in our teens, to a time when some of us became die-hard Bulls fans despite some juvenile obstacles.

Yeah, I’m talking about the motherfucking 90s.

“Come on and slam and welcome to the jam.” – Quad City DJs.

The 90s hold a special place in my heart because they were the time of playing alley basketball “all day” with friends and losing myself in Bulls culture and memorabilia, from video games, to cereals, stickers, basketball cards, hats, jackets, books, the first three-peat on videocassette, the second three-peat also on videocassette, and to championship parades downtown.

It was a time when our parents were able to pay their mortgages, have cook-outs all the time, install basketball hoops on their garages without fear of the “bad element” coming in and ruining the fun, and affording things like official jerseys, over-priced shoes, stupid (really stupid) video games and even things like  Charlotte Hornets Alonzo Mourning neon blue-colored  basketballs. Was I the only one who owned this dumb piece of shit?


Thank you, guy walking down the street.

Sure, kiddie ventures such as “Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City,” or “Shaq Fu” may seem like trivial things now. But they were important. We were kids. We actually thought that the fact that Ball Park franks plump when you cook em actually meant something because MJ said it. We thought Gatorade was supposed to be delicious because MJ drank it. Shit, we thought that his shoes would make us jump higher. For the record, “Chaos in the Windy City” was terrible. So was “Barkley’s Shut Up and Jam.” That’s why we had to create our own MJ in NBA Live 96.

And think back to the time when the Bulls won that first, that second or that third championship. In the 90s Jordan was God in this city. That’s why riots almost broke out in order to celebrate. That’s what we do when we win. As a city, we come out in throes, breaking shit, causing a disturbance, we honk our car horns until they don’t work anymore, wave flags of whatever team that has won, rob people, spit at the cops who are barricading the streets and get drunk. We have fun. Ya know, guy shit.

Back in the 90s, if you didn’t have MJ’s shoes, then it was probably because some kids jacked you after school after the first day that you wore them. Or you jacked their shoes. Fucking yuppies.

And looking back at all those Starter-jacket woven winter streets and the red or white jersey-colored summer alleys, this city came truly together behind the Bulls. Even now, when the new Bulls are on the verge of something great and uncanny, with D Rose and the gang, there is always that sense of nostalgia, that sense of history that comes from being a fan of this team.

I know this lesson now, but during my humble beginnings in this country during the 90s, it took some time before I realized that I was rooting for the wrong team for a while there.

This was after the first three-peat, after Jordan retired and played baseball and made “Space Jam.” Yeah, those years. After he retired it seemed that some kids were heart broken. And with a pain in my heart I have to come clean. I became a Reggie Miller fan. Not an Indiana fan, but a Reggie Miller fan.

To many Chicago sports fans that’s the equivalent of someone admitting that they have a venereal disease after you’ve just slept with them and pulled out bareback and finished on her stomach. “What do you have again?” “No, don’t kiss me.”

It’s the equivalent of putting ketchup on a hot dog, parking during a snow storm in a city snow lane, singing on the CTA bus in the morning “What are you stupid?” calling it soda instead of pop, and saying Kobe or LeBron are better than Jordan. You just don’t do that. Ever. “You mad, bro?”

I’m quite familiar with the hatred we have against the Pacers. I’m quite familiar with what a pain in the ass they were in 1998 during the Eastern Conference semis. We still hate that cheap ass fucking team. But during my assimilation period into this country I could only rely on my alley peers who played ball out there and their cultural tastes. Out of all the fucking alleys in the world, I had to end up on one where kids liked asshole ball players.

Kids were nuts back then. Here we were in Chi-town, the home of the mighty Bulls, and kids succumbed to wearing Reggie Miller, Alonzo Mourning, Muggsy Bogues, Patrick Ewing and other jerseys because “His Airness” retired and decided to play baseball. Most of them were Polaks. Some were Hispanic.

But the game needed to be played. And as it is with most of the kids who were fans of basketball after Jordan left for the glove, we needed something else to fill our shoes with. And there was that basket, that basket in the alley where all the kids would come out and play.

They all had jerseys on, usually Jordan’s at the beginning, but there was a Horace Grant jersey for the kid who had glasses or the Paxon jersey for the kid who thought he was a perimeter shooter, and then there was that one kid who dared to wear an official white Indiana Pacers jersey. Of course it was Miller’s. We hated that blond kid. What ever happened to him? The kid, not Reggie Miller.

But as a kid trying to assimilate into the country, I thought that it would be a good idea to get a Miller jersey of my own. I just didn’t understand what all the trash talking was about. The jersey seemed to get attention.

Anyway, I bought one of those wannabe blue Pacers jerseys from Sports Mart. The cheaper one since the official one was way over my parent’s budget at the time. I played in that jersey out in the street with the kids during those years and displayed my three-point shooting ability. “Miller chokes.” “Miller eats it again.” “No win for Miller.” “Miller caterpillar.” “Go back to Indiana.”

Alley ball back then was the stuff they make movies about. You had like six neighborhood kids who would divide into teams and as soon someone scored, another one would yell “Make It-Take It.”

This style of play suggests that the players on the “court” are real imbeciles whose ball-playing skills rely mostly on luck instead of actual prowess. It made sense at the time. “Fuck it, he makes it, he takes it.” Then he would make three or four baskets, and what did you do? You fouled him so hard that he put a dent in some guy’s garage with his head.

And remember the total lack of respect for the neighbor’s garage? Here was a family who put up a basketball hoop on the top of their garage to let the neighborhood kids enjoy it and we just fucking went ape shit after missing a three-pointer to win the game. Balls went flying in anger, someone actually used to jump kick the garage. And if you wanted the ball back, you would throw it so hard against it that it would bounce back right to you.

It dawned on me later, that we were the “bad element” that stopped people from putting up hoops on top of their garages.

Oh yeah, fuck Reggie Miller.