Monday, June 27, 2011

I know, I know

It's been FAR too long since I've updated. Let me finish school tomorrow and we'll be back in the swing of things. Traveling Mono-Lagerings, and some really important (to me) Barographies on their way.

I love you.

I'm on the wagon.

It sucks.

I'll be off in two days.

Yay!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Drinking Through The Ages: Age 30

Click to enlarge and read the finale of this series!! Read more...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mono-Lagering: The Gibson

Given a gift of free beer coupons from 30 different bars from, Mr. Rice has decided to visit each one, and record his thoughts.

The school year is wrapping up, which is great, but which is also quite difficult. By this point in the year I'm pretty tired of my students, and they're definitely tired of me. Slight annoyances repeated for ten months seem like personal vendettas. WHY CAN'T JOSE REMEMBER WE DON'T ASK TO GO TO THE BATHROOM WHILE SITTING IN THE MEETING AREA?!?!? Seriously, Jose. Knock that shit off.

So this time of year is kind of a stress enhancer: you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but everything is falling apart anyway. I don't know who is more ready to get the fuck out, the teachers or the kids. So, to make things easier, these next few weeks I'm keeping it local. This summer I will Mono-Lager all over Brooklyn, visiting Red Hook, Bed Stuy, you name it.

But this time I went to the Gibson in Williamsburg. I have apparently been there twice; the more recent I definitely remember, as it was a post-concert little trip with my dear friend the Highlander and her handsome husband (GUESS WHO TAUGHT AN ALLITERATION LESSON THIS WEEK). She claims I was also there the night I was the stripper/guest at a bachelorette party, and she may well be right. I certainly don't recall it.

On one of the first really beautiful days in New York this year they had all their windows thrown open, creating a nice open air feeling in the main bar, and the backyard was open. I sauntered in, mood as warm as the weather. It's not a particularly remarkable space physically, but there's certainly nothing wrong with it. Foosball table in the corner, giant TV for games or events, decent sized bar, and various seating arrangements. I ordered an Old Chub that was 8% APV. The beer was sweet and definitely strong, and would have been perfect on a cooler day.

I began to notice an odd abundance of real bar amateurs, or at least super weirdoes. One girl came in and asked how much "wine" was. It took the poor bartender a while to get her to figure out what she was actually asking for. The next guy asked for a "Yagermeister" (short a sound) straight. A whole fucking glass of the shit. The tender poured heavy and charged him ten bucks, to which he said "Well, if I knew it was going to be that much, I'd have gotten something else . . ." HEY ASSHOLE YOU SHOULD COMPLETELY HAVE GOTTEN SOMETHING ELSE. FUCKING GROSS.

Just a bit of eavesdropping explained that there was a book club meeting there. You could completely tell if someone was going to that when they entered the door. They were not bar types. Nobody had a damn clue what to do.

Anyway, everything was so "Summer is coming," in a reverse House Stark kind of way that I switched to the Anchor Summer beer, which was smooth, crisp, and just what the doctor ordered. I reread some more Game of Thrones and waited for my friends to arrive, happy as a clam.

I didn't always look to summer with such gleeful anticipation. As a kid, I really didn't care for it that much. Summer, to me, was a sweaty time where I didn't see my friends as much and had to do things I found less pleasant than homework. I was a nerd; I really enjoyed going to school. An only child, I didn't get to see nearly as many people when we weren't all mandated to be in the same place for eight hours every day.

My mother, a music teacher, LIVED for summer vacation. Every year we'd go to a beach, usually Myrtle Beach (hillbilly mecca). Going to the beach and laying out was and is one of her favorite activities in the world. She never understood quite why I disagreed. I was what you might call an "indoor kid." I wanted to play with my toys, read books, maybe watch TV. Hell, it wasn't that I minded being outside. I just hated, just utterly loathed laying out and tanning. Dad would take me into the ocean and jump waves and swim with me. That was great. But every day had to have periods of tanning.

It was hot, it was boring, and it was humiliating. I know mom wanted me to fit in with the cool kids at school; but I basically already did, I just didn't look like them. I never got the appeal of burning your skin to a crisp. I can only imagine some of those girls I went to high school with now look like an old purse. And, God, when I was on my back, I couldn't even read, because the book would "block the sun from my face." YES, EXACTLY.

So I never could quite get up the same sort of pseudo-mythologized love of summer that basically everyone else in America has. Years later, when summer was simply a time that I could basically do anything anytime, well, then I got the point. Summer, now, is endless possibility. Want to stay out all night on a Tuesday? YES. How about road trips to stupid places? YUP. Road trips to delicious places? EVEN MORE YUP.

This is how the lobster roll became my quintessential summer food. I had always loved the sweet meat of crustaceans (seafood restaurants were a giant highlight in those early forced beach days). But there's something especially magical about mayo, lobster, butter, and a hot dog bun. Rich without weighing you down, and ridiculously flavorful. One summer, my ex-wife and I took a trip up the coast of Maine, hitting every lobster roll joint we could find.

That was a good goddam summer.

So, as luck would have it, the Gibson was premiering a new thing where every Wednesday they serve lobster rolls in the backyard for just sixteen bucks (if you don't eat them often, that is actually a good price for them in this city). Unfortunately, my stomach was on the fritz and I had already eaten, so I didn't get to sample one, but several of my friends enjoyed them with sometimes frightening intensity (Vacuum Nicole, I'm looking at you).

So friends old and new dropped by for a drink or eight, some lobster, and mostly just laughter. Summer is no longer that time I don't see my friends much and I have to do things I hate. It's done a complete one-eighty turn. Summer is freedom. Summer is deliciousness. Summer is dicking around 24/7. Summer is girls in dresses. Summer is linen shirts and light suits. Summer is friends.

Summer is fucking awesome.