Monday, December 17, 2012


Have you ever seen a gun... in real life?

Have you ever seen someone shooting a gun?

Have you ever seen heroin... in real life?

Have you ever seen someone shooting heroin?

That's because outlawing drugs that kill people helps deter their use.  No, it doesn't eliminate heroin from the planet.  However, it's more likely that somebody in the parking lot at Walmart or at a high school has a gun in their glove box than heroin.

Gun legislation is worth talking about, just as much as increased mental health awareness and funding.


P.S. When I first wrote this, I spelled heroine incorrectly.

TBOX 2012

Two weekends ago, Annie and I took a trip up to Chicago to visit with one of her close friends from college, as well as participate in the annual Twelve Bars of Xmas (TBoX) bar-crawl throughout Wrigleyville.  (When you click on that link, you can find me in that blurry picture right below the tendons in Heat Miser's right wrist while he pours cereal into the audience.  I'm the dark afro with reindeer antlers on.)  The weather sucked driving up there, but we got there Friday afternoon and decided to pre-party for the bar crawl with red wine and tequila and Jack Daniels.  I've made better decisions...

The crawl started around 8am on Saturday the 8th at The CubbyBear, across from the Chicago Cubs' ballpark.  The line in front of that bar was an absolute zoo; a great foreshadow of the day.

TBOX is effectively a drunken holiday parade on Clark St.
One big thing about TBOX is that you're supposed to look ridiculous.  Straight from their website:  "People need to be STARING at you the minute you leave the house."  I feel like I succeeded in that, since I used blinking LED Xmas lights and red/green pompoms to make a ridiculously ugly sweater.  I also had pink-bunny, footie pajamas on, as well as antlers.  A spectacular moment happened before we even got into the first bar.  An old man pulled up to the stop light, rolled down his window, and shouted "what's going on?", to which someone in the crowd yelled back, "a birthday party!"

The first bar & opening ceremonies were boring.  The guy who created TBOX and organizes it now had a really long, indulgent sing-a-long that he composed and it was super awkward.  It seemed as though he didn't have many friends in real life, so he was going to milk today for all that it was worth.  We left in the middle to get our drink on, but not before getting a green bracelet.  The first bar we went to was Bar Celona.  It was empty, so getting drinks and using the bathroom was easy.  I don't drink beer, so a bar-crawl means that I'll be drinking a bunch of liquor.  There were deals on Jagermeister shots all day, so that was what I was going to choke down so that the day didn't cost $500.

TBOX is all about stickers, as well as their theme, which was TBOXopoly this year.  So, at each bar you got a sticker that said 'you landed on...' and there was a royal court walking around passing out stickers that looked like money with their individual faces on the bills.  Annie and I even had bright pink 'Virgin' stickers that had to be signed by one of the royal court after we kissed/got kissed by them.  (Again, the underlying theme of these folks having poor social lives and needing this bar crawl.)

Thank you, Annie's friend, for hosting us!
I got antsy and progressed by myself to Rockwood Place for a shot and a sticker before meeting my group at the Hofbrauhaus, called Uberstein for some reason.  At this point, Annie was already trying to slow me down by making me drink water in between shots of Jager.  We walked across the street to get into Exedus II Lounge, which I started to freak out about because it wasn't on our TBOXopoly boards.  If I was being challenged to hit at least 12 bars on the board, I had no time to waste at other bars.  Apparently Exedus was one of 3 bars participating in TBOX that weren't on the board, so at least we got stickers.  The back corner of this bar was ridiculously dark, so my Xmas lights were shining bright.

At this point, hunger was affecting my drinking, so Annie and I actually took off to go find pizza at Dimo's.  I ate a ton there, getting a dollar off my second round for being fat.  Annie thoroughly enjoyed the Mac-n-Cheese pizza, and our friends eventually met us there.  We had heard how ridiculous the lines were getting at most of the bars, and we could see that the Blarney Stone didn't look too bad from the windows of the pizzeria, so that is where we headed next.  This ended up being the most-crowded room of the day.  Plus, the single bartender was an old Irish asshole that only served people right in front of him.  (I understand that it was a zoo, and that he could get away with that, but you should really walk along the bar and try to get to everyone.  People were starting to throw shit at him when we decided to just leave.)  At least this pub felt the most authentic.

From there, we decided to head south and find the shortest line, which was to Rookies.  As I look back on the day, Rookies was probably my favorite bar.  This is sad, since it's a Michigan State bar.  They did a fantastic job at controlling numbers that went in so that once you were in you were comfortable.  It was easy to get drinks, the live DJ was playing good music, and there was plenty of room for drinking and dancing.  We stayed there for several drinks, but eventually moved on as our group was getting drunker.  In fact, our group split in half at this point, since Annie and her friend ran off ahead while the rest of us waited for someone to make their way out of Rookies.  I eventually ran off to find the girls, but the rest of the party never came.  Oh well...

I found Annie and her friend at Fiesta Cantina, and we all ran upstairs.  Once we got drinks, we hovered around an empty stripper pole, which was used several times by drunken sorority girls (I wasn't complaining) before we decided to progress to the next bar.  I'll be honest, this is the line in the sand.  This is where things get hazy.  I know most of the events that occurred from here forward, but they may be out of order, or just plain made up.  You can see the number of bars that we had already hit at this point.  I tried to text Annie every time I took a shot, but I lost track by Rookies...  You've been warned!

We found ourselves at Nisei Lounge, where we were lucky enough to meet up with one of my friends from college.  That is, unless Nisei Lounge doesn't have two dartboards in the back.  If it doesn't, I'm not sure what bar we were at.  We left here to return to Clark St. and hit up Deuces, Irish Oak, Mullen's, Vines, and eventually Yak-Zies.  (You're very welcome for combining those into one sentence, since this is already getting too long.)  I really liked Vines, and I would like to visit there once when it wasn't a shit show.  They were even smart enough to have bathroom attendants, so it wasn't absolutely disgusting in there.  At one of these bars, we ran into 4 people dressed as toy soldiers.  After the fact, I was told that they looked like they were from Babes in Toyland, but at the moment, all I could do was sing songs from The Nutcracker loudly at them while making robotic toy soldier motions.  I was not the only one singing in our party, for the record.

Doing shots of cereal is another big thing at TBOX.
At Yak-Zies, my friend from college reunited with his group of bar crawlers.  This bar felt exactly like Elephant & Castle, which was one of my favorite pubs from bar-crawling San Francisco during St. Patty's Day.  It was very comfortable, very spacious, very easy to get drinks, and they had food, which was becoming a necessity again.  At one point, a taco truck pulled up outside, and Annie begged me to bring her food from it, but the nice gentleman at the door said he couldn't allow me to do that since they serve food.

I only needed one more sticker to finish my 12 bars (and Annie only needed 2), so we left our friends at Yak-Zies and ran to Trace.  [If you're doing the math, we had actually already been to 13 bars, but the first bar didn't count and neither did Exedus.]  For our sakes, I don't think we drank at Trace, but we quickly found our way to Raw Bar.  They didn't have any stickers left, but they did have amazing oyster shots with vodka, which we gladly partook in.  This was another bar that I would like to visit while sober.  We finally found ourselves at the northern-most bar of the day, Full Shilling.  This is where shit hit the fan for my female companions.  This is the bar that they remember least, and it's also the bar where they barely took a sip of the beers I bought them.  All they wanted was water.  Lots of water.  I felt like I still had my wits about me, but events that followed might prove otherwise.

We finished, but Annie would not finish those beers!
We were handed red bracelets to match the green bracelets we were handed to at the first bar.  (Remember those bracelets from the first bar?)  These bracelets signified that you had completed a TBOX bar crawl!  Happy with our success, we decided to swing back to Yak-Zies to pick up our fellow partiers.  We only actually got one person to go back out with us, and our first stop was Big G's Pizza.  For some reason, they had stickers, which we gladly accepted, but I was more interested in 3 more slices of pizza.  Also, we ran into the toy soldiers again.  I sang again.  I also finished their half-drank bottle of water after they left.  Could I be more obnoxious?  Annie and our friends decided to sit there for a minute to watch the Heisman ceremony, but I couldn't sit still.  From what I recollect, I stood up and said, "I have to go" and ran off to continue bar crawling on my own.

Annie's completed board, which wouldn't make it home with us
I got to check out Rockit Burger Bar, CubbyBear (again, but this one counted), and Sluggers before meeting them back at Casey Moran's.  I, technically, should have never seen Sluggers, but I walked in the door that they were reserving for the exit.  I had no clue, since nobody stopped me.  It wasn't until I gave up on the crowd and walked back outside that I saw the huge line to get into that bar.  Bernie's had also shut their doors and weren't letting anybody else in.  I remember being very angry at Bernie's.  I also have the slightest memory of reaching into my bunny pocket to find change for a homeless person and pulling out golden, chocolate coins instead of money.  (Most of us found these in our pockets the next morning.  Where the fuck did we get these?  Full Shilling?  Drunker than I thought...)  I gave the chocolate coins to the homeless man anyway.  I pray it was somebody just dressed homeless, since that's a dick move.  Casey Moran's would become home base for the rest of the night, and where we hailed a cab from to take us home, but I wasn't finished.

When I met up with everybody once again at Casey Moran's, I realized that my college friend, who had missed part of the crawl for a birthday party, hadn't finished collecting all the stickers for his TBOXopoly board.  Well, I was a self-proclaimed expert at this point, and I dragged him down the road in the search for stickers.  We went into one really fancy bar that, for the life of me, I cannot figure out which one it was.  We also hit up Dark Horse and Black Sheep, but I was just hunting for stickers.  I think we collected his last sticker at Nisei Lounge (a reappearance for me), and we celebrated with a round.  On the way back to find Annie, I swung in to Merkle's for a round in memory of Granny (who had her funeral at Merkle's Funeral Home in Monroe, MI, in June.)

We time-traveled back to Casey Moran's where I couldn't find Annie.  I remember having an overwhelming fear that Annie and her friend had gone home without me.  I had memorized addresses and cross streets, so I wasn't worried that I'd never see them again, but I do remember being worried.  It turns out they were on the other side of the wall dancing.  I got dragged over to their side of the bar, and I would never see anybody on the other side of the wall again.  I don't remember anybody leaving, but the next thing I knew that side of the bar was closed and they were gone.  Oh well, dancing and water was the name of our game. I also had one other college friend that was headed there at 10pm to meet us.  (What time did we start?)

By the time the new guy joined the party, it was an utter shit show, all parties included.  I ran off to try and collect my first friend who was wandering the streets looking for his lost jacket.  I got to see some spectacular text messages that were passed:  "Abe wow Itzel is: hooatsky earth brute."  Finally, just before 11pm, Annie and I hit a wall.
And it was a big, fast wall that we hit...
We walked outside and hailed a cab back to our friends place, having just left her at the bar.  We managed to get into her apartment.  I had to strip down out of the bunny suit at the door and head straight to the shower, because I was disgusting.  Annie immediately passed out on the airbed.  I, I'm told, came out of the shower screaming at her to drink water, fearing she was dead.  Then I passed out, too.

We woke up at a reasonable hour the next morning, but I think I was still drunk.  Our host had apparently brought someone home with her.  [Awkward palm tree.]  The three of us (sans extra guy) ate at a cool place nearby.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet up with one of my closest friends in Chicago since he and his wife had consumed too much alcohol the night before, also.  Once Annie and I sufficiently had our shit together, we got into our cars and headed back to Kentucky.  The weather driving home sucked.

Your weather sucks, Indiana,

P.S. I'm pretty sure that my college friend who got really drunk and lost his jacket had this Red TBOX present on at one time, having found it beside the road, and eventually ditching it since it smelled:

Now it sits in front of Wrigley field.
P.S.S. I'm still unclear how I ended up with a purse strap (no purse) around my right wrist (go back to that last reindeer photo).  It looks like no purse anybody in our party was carrying...

Who Help Themselves...

In the wake of the recent massacre of elementary school students and staff in Connecticut, I find myself frustrated with one message that has gone viral in many forms:

Ummm, usually I can stand on the sideline and let Christians be Christians, but this is where I draw the line.

We need practical solutions to protect kids, as well as general citizens, from maniacs legally obtaining weapons and using them to injure and kill innocent people.  We do NOT need a bunch of people wishing to some magical being for a solution.  If you want God to be in your child's school, then feel free to enter your children into a private, Christian institution.  There they can spend more time on God and less time on Math.

I don't want gun legislation to be a knee-jerk reaction to what has happened in the past week.  I want gun legislation to be a logical step regarding years worth of data determining that our policies on guns are killing us.

The over-used 'Right to Bear Arms' argument is old.  The Constitution had slavery written into it.  Most states' voting laws only allowed for white men who owned significant property to vote (the Constitution left voting rights up to states originally).  We've Amended (and sometimes un-amended) the Constitution several times since it was written, including Amendment #2.  It's a living document, and most of it is out-dated.

You should only have the right to protect yourself if you are going to do so with a weapon that is not automatic or semi-automatic and if you are mentally stable.  There is no need for concealed weapons; if you are just protecting yourself, then there's no harm in visually notifying everyone in your surroundings that you're prepared to.  You only need single- and double-shot weapons for hunting.  Automatic weapons should be reserved for military.  If the military were to ever turn on its citizens, which Amendment #2 was protecting us from, we would have bigger issues to deal with than people running down our streets firing guns at us.  Much bigger issues...

All I'm trying to say is that religion shouldn't be part of the current discussion.  You know my feelings on religion, and I think they're reasonably fair.  However, this should be a time to debate gun control and mental health funding.  It should absolutely not be a time for wasting time on religion in schools.

Pray in one hand, shit in the other, and tell me which one fills first,